Sunburned tourists and fighter jets: The Israel-Greece alliance

Vaccinated Israeli tourists are now allowed to sun themselves on Greek beaches thanks to a COVID-19 green card agreed on by leaders in Athens and Tel Aviv.

As the holidaymakers make their way across the Mediterranean another group will be as well: Israeli defence contractors.

They are working on a $1.68bn project awarded to Israel’s Elbit Systems last year to build and operate a new air force training school in Kalamata, Greece.

Together, the defence ties and tourist flows symbolise an emerging partnership between Greece and Israel that is taking root under the backdrop of Jerusalem’s rapprochement with Arab neighbours and a more assertive Turkish foreign policy under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Since the late 2000s our relationship has progressed with leaps and bounds,” Dimitris Kairidis, a politician with Greece’s governing New Democracy Party, said in an interview with Al Jazeera.

Eran Lerman, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, echoed those sentiments. As a deputy national security adviser in Israel from 2009 to 2015, he played a role in advocating for stronger ties between the two countries.Israel and Greece, along with neighbouring Cyprus, established the tripartite framework in 2016 under which the three countries engage in regular high-level summits each year in Nicosia.

One of the original goals of the tripartite was to advance the EastMed Gas Pipeline.

The project is designed to carry Israeli and Cypriot gas to Europe through waters disputed with Turkey. Lerman said the relationship has moved beyond this.

Energy ministers of the three countries signed a memorandum of understanding in March to lay an undersea cable, the EuroAsia Interconnector, linking the energy grids of Cyprus and Israel with the European continent.Israel and Greece, along with neighbouring Cyprus, established the tripartite framework in 2016 under which the three countries engage in regular high-level summits each year in Nicosia.

One of the original goals of the tripartite was to advance the EastMed Gas Pipeline.

The project is designed to carry Israeli and Cypriot gas to Europe through waters disputed with Turkey. Lerman said the relationship has moved beyond this.

Energy ministers of the three countries signed a memorandum of understanding in March to lay an undersea cable, the EuroAsia Interconnector, linking the energy grids of Cyprus and Israel with the European continent.

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