Netanyahu: Israel Views Iran in Suez Canal ‘With Gravity’
JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister on Sunday accused Iran of trying to exploit the recent instability in Egypt by sending two warships through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, saying he views the move “with gravity.”
The Iranian ships were expected to make a rare crossing through the canal on Sunday or Monday en route to Syria — an Iranian ally and Israel’s enemy to the north. Egypt confirmed the ships would be allowed through the strategic passage.
“Israel views this Iranian step with gravity,” Benjamin Netanyahu told the weekly meeting of his Cabinet. He did not suggest there would be an Israeli response. The ships would not enter Israeli territorial waters.
Protests in Egypt toppled the country’s autocratic ruler, Hosni Mubarak, on Feb. 11 and Egypt is currently being run by the military. Israel has expressed concern that Islamic groups could increase their clout in Egypt and harm the three-decade-old peace agreement between the two countries.
Egypt, a longtime U.S. ally, has been at odds with Iran for decades, and Israel fears a weakening of Egypt could give Iran room to increase its reach. The Gaza Strip, sandwiched between Israel and Egypt, is ruled by the Iranian-backed Hamas militant group.