turkey israel energy corridor

Why Israel & Turkey Allegedly Close to Normalizing Relations

It’s an undeniable fact that Turkey is in a hasty attempt to overcome its long isolation which has been led to from Erdogan’s policy, mainly to solve its important energy problems that grows and threatens with a complete collapse of the Turkish economy , and as well it tries to undertake a significant shift attempt to change its foreign policy despite occasional fierce criticism of what Erdogan is saying about Israeli policy towards Gaza and the Palestinians.

Acording to Middle East Eye and other Turkish sources, after some secret talks held in Switzerland between the head of the Turkish foreign ministry  (others say MIT)and the head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, it was announced on Thursday that agreement has been reached – though not yet signed – on an exchange of ambassadors.

The Istanbul-based Daily Sabah, affiliated with the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reported on Saturday that Israel had agreed to ease the blockade.

Turkey and Israel are at odds since the 2010 incident that claimed lives of nine Turkish citizens and one Turkish-origin U.S. citizen.

This, it was announced, is to be the preliminary to the opening of discussions about building a natural gas pipeline from Israel’s off-shore gas fields to Turkey. Officials stress that it is not yet certain that the deal will go ahead, though last weekend, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself called a rapprochement with Turkey to be “crucial for the region”. Another harbinger of the news was the fact that a few days earlier, without explanation, the Jewish winter feast of Hanukkah was for the first time celebrated publicly in Istanbul.

The accord has been forged by the new Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and Joseph Ciechanover, who represented Israel in the committee of enquiry to the Marmara incident. The two Israelis met in Switzerland with senior Turkish foreign ministry official Feridun Sinirlioglu and reached the latest understandings.

According to the report ,Hamas terrorist Salah al-Arouri, believed to have masterminded the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers in Gush Etzion who has been operating from Turkey, will not be allowed in the country, and his activities there will end.

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said last week that  the country was eyeing other export options for its gas, including Jordan, Greece, Turkey and Western Europe. Talks will begin shortly regarding the possibility of laying a gas pipeline to Turkey and the sale of Israel’s natural gas there. As a result of Ankara’s tension with Moscow, this issue is now much more pressing for Turkey, since it is highly dependent on Russian gas.

The understandings include plans to open talks on selling Israel’s gas to Turkey and the laying of an undersea pipeline in the Mediterranean. This comes on the very day that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed the gas framework agreement that will allow the development of the giant Leviathan field.

For Wall Street Journal, the talks came as the international fight against the extremist group Islamic State injects news strains and transforms long-standing alliances in the region adding thaht Russia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war has altered the battlefield and led to new efforts by Turkey, the U.S. and their allies to end the conflict and combat Islamic State.

Nonetheless, relations between the two countries are also important to a third party, the United States, which is a close ally of both and which has probably played a leading role behind the scenes in brokering this week’s agreement.

The US helped get some diplomatic links restored in March 2013, when under prodding from President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered an apology to President Erdogan in regard to the Blue Marmara assault.

The Israeli Natural Gas Exports:

The years in which Turkey and Israel were declining were also ones in which large reserves of offshore natural gas were being found by Israel. Between them, its two largest proven reserves, Tamar and Leviathan, total about 780 cubic km – enough to make Israel a significant supplier internationally for several decades.

It is meant to begin production in 2018-2020, although that timetable now looks ambitious, and is to supply billions of dollars’ worth of gas to Egypt and Jordan, and possibly Turkey and Europe.

Turkish firms have long been negotiating with Israeli counterparts on a pipeline to carry Leviathan gas. Both Zorlu Energy and a consortium of Turkish firms Turcas and Enerjisa have been in talks with Israel over the price, potential route of a pipeline, partnership structure, and how to sell the gas, a Turkish source said.

A possible deal between Israel, Turkey Greece and Cyprus?

For years, Greece and Israel had the worst of regional relations, with automatic Hellenic support for Palestinian petitions and Israeli anger at the regular flare-ups of Greek antisemitism. Under Tsipras, who assumed power in Greece this year with the mandate of repairing its collapsing economy, anti-Israel sentiment has waned and the benefits of linking arms with the regions Start-Up Nation have been brought to the fore.

At first Israel seems to have been unsure how to make use of its natural gas, but one obvious route is a deal with Cyprus, something that would at first sight neatly lock out Turkey though probably at the cost of permanently ramping up tensions in a corner of the eastern Mediterranean already full of political conflict. The idea of cooperation along those lines is still around. A memorandum of understanding was signed between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece less than two months ago, but it was only a shadow of hopes two or three years earlier to have Israeli gas actually travelling to Cyprus by this year.

If Israel plans to export its gas, Turkey would be a much easier destination than Greece. It also offers a large potential market one which, since Turkey’s rift with Russia after the downing of a Su 24 Russian fighter jet on 24 November, is looking for potential new suppliers.

“The differences in the relative importance of Turkey versus Greece and Cyprus notwithstanding, Israel clearly sees Greece and Cyprus as greatly balancing the damage caused by the ongoing depreciation of its relations with Ankara,” Oded Eran, a former Israeli ambassador and deputy director general of Foreign Ministry, in a paper entitled Active Israeli Policy in the Mediterranean Basin. “Nevertheless,” he continued, “it is important that Israel not abandon the effort to repair relations with Turkey.”

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To achieve this article sources have been used from: Middle East Eye, Reuters, FT.com, Hurriyet Daily News, Globes Israel, Daily Sabah, Jerusalem Post

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