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Dendias (L) with Netanyahu. Photo: GPO/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Greece has asked Israeli leaders to lobby the Trump administration to take a stronger position in an intensifying dispute with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Behind the scenes: Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias arrived in Israel for a short visit today. He asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to speak with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and urge the U.S. to intervene more forcefully, Israeli officials briefed on the visit tell me.

The big picture: Turkey has sent a ship — along with military vessels — to explore for oil and gas in areas which Greece and Cyprus consider part of their exclusive maritime zones.

  • Turkey's claim to the areas are part of a deal it struck with Libya's embattled government, which it is supporting militarily in an ongoing civil war. The deal's legitimacy has been widely questioned.
  • France has emphatically backed Greece and Cyprus, with President Emmanuel Macron offering military support yesterday and dispatching ships and aircraft to the region.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel is attempting to mediate. She spoke today with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  • The U.S. has had minimal involvement, but Pompeo will meet Dendias tomorrow in Vienna to discuss the crisis.

In the room: Dendias showed his Israeli counterparts maps of the areas where Turkish ships are operating.

  • He expressed concern over America's absence in the dispute, and stressed that the Trump administration needs to “come back to the region," the Israeli officials say.

What’s next: The foreign ministers of the EU member states are also set to convene tomorrow for an emergency session about the crisis.

  • Greek and French officials are concerned the tensions could escalate into a military conflict.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 24, 2020 - World

Tracking Biden's first calls to world leaders

Combination images of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: NZ Prime Minister's Office/Instagram/Joe Raedle/Getty Images

One ritual of becoming president-elect is the carousel of congratulatory phone calls with other world leaders.

What to watch: The order in which the calls are returned is watched closely around the world.

Nov 17, 2020 - World

Biden speaks with Israeli leaders Netanyahu and Rivlin

Biden (L) with Netanyahu in 2010. Photo: Baz Ratner-Pool/Getty Images

President-elect Biden spoke on the phone today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as part of series of congratulatory phone calls with leaders around the world.

The big picture: The order in which these calls are returned by an incoming president is closely watched. Biden called Netanyahu and Rivlin after speaking with the leaders of nine other U.S. allies over the past few days.

Nov 18, 2020 - World

Exclusive: Biden must consult Gulf states before new Iran deal, Bahrain foreign minister says

Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani of Bahrain told me in an exclusive interview that he expects the Biden administration to consult Bahrain and other Gulf countries before moving toward a new nuclear deal with Iran.

Why it matters: The comments, made during Zayani's historic visit to Jerusalem today, reflect the concerns of other Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE about Biden's desire to revive the existing nuclear deal and potentially negotiate a new one.