Israeli soldiers stand on a Merkava tank stationed at an army deployment along the border with the Gaza Strip.
Jack Guez (AFP)Israeli soldiers stand on a Merkava tank stationed at an army deployment along the border with the Gaza Strip.

Such a sale poses a risk to Jerusalem's relations with Ankara, to Turkey's position on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Advanced negotiations are underway between Israel and two foreign customers for the sale of used Merkava battle tanks, according to Yair Kulas, director of international defense cooperation. Sources revealed to Haaretz that one of the countries is Cyprus, a member of the European Union.

"Due to the war in Europe, several countries have expressed interest in Israeli equipment, including Merkava tanks retired from service a few years ago. Negotiations have not yet been concluded,” the Israeli Ministry of Defense did not confirm this hypothesis in its press release.

JACK GUEZ (AFP)Israeli soldiers ride in the turret of a Merkava tank near the Kibbutz of Nahal Oz, along the border with the Gaza Strip.

Previous statements on the importance of security relations, and frequent contacts between the leaders of the two countries, lend support to this hypothesis. If the agreement was conducted, Cyprus could replace its AMX-30 tanks or some of its T-80s of Russian origin, which could then be delivered to Ukraine

However, Cypriot sources have denied this intention. With that being said, Cyprus was obligated to replace its Russian equipment because of the sanctions imposed by the European Union on Moscow, which made maintenance difficult.

Moreover, such an agreement could complicate Israel's relations with Turkey, which views with suspicion any arms acquisition by Cyprus due to its proximity to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Relations between Israel and Turkey were re-established in August 2022 after a long period of diplomatic tension. The acquisition of Merkava tanks by Cyprus has raised concerns in Ankara about a possible arms race on the island.

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