Israel views Iranian warships move with `gravity`
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Last Updated: Sunday, February 20, 2011, 18:43
Jerusalem: Israel on Sunday said that it takes "grave view" of the Iranian plan to send two naval warships through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea for the first time since 1979.

"We can see what an unstable region we live in, an area in which Iran is trying to take advantage of the situation that has arisen and broaden its influence by transferring two warships via the Suez Canal," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet during a meeting.

"Israel takes a grave view of this Iranian step," Netanyahu said, adding the Jewish state would need to boost defence spending as a result of Tehran's move and recent regional upheaval.

Suez Canal officials in Egypt earlier said that the two warships were due to sail through the waterway to the Mediterranean on Monday, denying a report from Iran that the vessels had already crossed.

The vessels, which are apparently not carrying any unconventional cargo, would be the first Iranian naval ships to sail through the canal since Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979.

They are expected to anchor in the Syrian port of Latakia.

Israel believes that the Egyptians have no choice but to allow the ships to pass through the Suez Canal because the treaty to which it is a signatory obliges it to allow free passage through the waterway.

However, when President Hosni Mubarak was in power, Iran did not risk such a move due to clear opposition from the ousted regime.


First Published: Sunday, February 20, 2011, 18:43

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