JERUSALEM — Israel and Cyprus signed an accord Sunday to lay an underwater electricity cable between the Mediterranean nations, the first stage in a bid to transfer power between the Jewish state and mainland Europe.
The cable, which the sides hope to complete by 2016, will stretch over the 287 kilometres (178 miles) between Israel and Cyprus at a depth of around 2,000 metres (6,550 feet).
The so-called "Euro-Asia Interconnect," with a capacity to transfer 2,000 MW, is "a historic event -- no more Israel as an economic island," Israel Electric Corporation CEO Yiftach Ron Tal said at the signing.
Additional underwater cables are to connect Cyprus and mainland Europe via Greece, which was also part of the agreement signed in the Jerusalem bureau of Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau.
"Israel will be able to receive backup (electricity) from Cyprus and Europe, and in the future, we will be able to provide them with energy," Landau said.
"Israel is connecting with Europe, this is also marking Israel as an island of stability in the region."
The chairman of the Cypriot company DEH Quantum Energy, Athanasios Ktoridis, said all three participants would gain from the deal.
"Greece will increase its energy efficiency, and become a significant player in the European energy chess-board. Cyprus will cease being an island and supply a steady flow of energy in and out of the country, and Israel will become a major energy provider to the European continent," he said.
Israel and Cyprus have discovered huge offshore natural gas deposits beneath the eastern Mediterranean separating them, and have tentatively discussed cooperation on delivering gas to European and Asian markets.
Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks in Nicosia with Cypriot leaders on energy cooperation and economic ties.
The deal inked on Sunday is still subject to final approval by Israel, Cyprus and Greece, that is expected to follow the completion of a feasibility study within a year.
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