JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two Iranian warships bound for Syria withdrew a request to sail through the Suez Canal.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced Wednesday night that the ships were en route to Syria via the Suez Canal.
But Thursday the ships stopped in an area near the Saudi Arabian Red Sea port city of Jiddah after reportedly withdrawing a request to traverse the canal. Other reports suggest that the ships never requested permission to cross through the canal.
Lieberman’s statement, released Wednesday evening, called the move a recurring Iranian "provocation." His statement suggested that Israel would not ignore Iran’s actions.
"The international community must understand that Israel cannot forever ignore these provocations," he said.
In a conference call Wednesday on new Iran sanctions, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said Iran’s move was legal but "very provocative."
According to international rules governing navigation through the Suez Canal, no vessel can be denied passage, unless it is at war with Egypt. Prior approval must come from the Ministry of Defense, and ships must give at least 24 hours notice before crossing.