Suez Canal - Nir Kafri - Feb 17, 2011
The Suez Canal. Photo by Nir Kafri
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Cairo intends to allow two Iranian warships to pass through the Suez Canal, Egyptian officials said Friday night. It was not clear, however, whether this was the latest in a series of contradictory statements made by the Egyptians on the matter.

Defense officials in Israel said they did not know whether more announcements would be forthcoming or when exactly the ships were scheduled to pass through the canal.

Israel is following the movement of the warships closely, although it does not believe the Iranian vessels have hostile intentions toward Israel.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called the warships "another provocation" by Iran against Israel.

The vessels, which are apparently not carring any unconventional cargo, are expected to anchor in the Syrian port of Latakia.

Israel believes the Egyptians had no choice but to allow the ships to pass through the Suez Canal, because the treaty to which it is a signatory obliges it to allow free passage through the waterway. However, during recently ousted President Hosni Mubarak's regime, the Iranians did not make such a move, apparently due to clear opposition from Cairo.

The Israel Navy is prepared in case the Iranian ships make a move toward the Israeli coastline, though the chances of that happening are at this point believed to be slim.