JERUSALEM — The governments of Israel and Cyprus signed an agreement Thursday to develop a land surveillance system that would see Elbit Systems create the platform.
The deal was signed by Yair Kulas, the head of the Israel Defense Ministry’s Directorate for International Defense Cooperation, known as SIBAT, and his Cypriot counterpart.
The Israeli ministry would not provide more information, including the contract value. But Lt. Col. Christos Pieris, a spokesperson for the Cypriot Defence Ministry, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying the system would be developed over three years for a value of $32 million. Elbit would not confirm that information.
Kulas met with the secretary of the Cypriot Defence Ministry, Andreas Louka, and the Israeli government said they discussed the “expansion of defense cooperation between the respective defense establishments.” Cyprus released a similar statement.
Reports have surmised the system will be for the Green Line in Cyprus, which divides the island between the Turkish-administered northern part and the government of Cyprus. As such, the contract has received attention in Turkey.
Israel-Cyprus relations have grown in recent years.
Israeli drone-maker Aeronautics also reportedly sold drones to Cyprus in 2019. And in June 2020, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi met his Cypriot counterpart, Nikos Christodoulides, to discuss increased trilateral energy cooperation with Greece — a reference to an Eastern Mediterranean pipeline agreement.
In February 2021, then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades to discuss opportunities for working on “peace and security” issues.
Additionally, Israeli commandos have trained in Cyprus, and there were recent reports about a joint military drill in Israeli media.
Seth J. Frantzman is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has covered conflict in the Mideast since 2010 for different publications. He has experience covering the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and he is a co-founder and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.