The Suez Canal Authority has denied reports that it refused to grant permission for two Iranian warships to use the canal to get from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean after Israel protested that it would be a "provocation".
In a statement to the Middle East News Agency, the director of operations for the Authority said, "No Iranian warship has used the Suez Canal today or yesterday". Ahmed al-Manakhili clarified that "no requests" for such a passage had been received by the SCA.
In doing so, Mr. Al-Manakhili pointed out that the laws governing use of the Suez Canal required any warship, regardless of its nationality, to obtain formal approval from the Egyptian Ministry of Defence before it could pass through the waterway. Such approval has not been given, he added. "It is not possible for any warship to pass through the Canal without obtaining such approval in advance".
Israel's far-right Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, had claimed earlier that two Iranian warships on their way to Syria intended to sail through the Suez Canal during the night. He described such a move as one of a number of "recurring Iranian provocations" and said that "the international community must understand that Israel cannot ignore them forever".