Already tense relations between Israel and Turkey may have gotten worse on Sunday in the midst of a disagreement over an accord signed between the Jewish State and Cyprus demarcating their maritime borders to facilitate a search for mineral deposits in the east Mediterranean. Huge natural gas reserves have been discovered in the area.
Gabi Levi, Israel's ambassador to Turkey, was reportedly rebuked by the
Turkish Foreign Ministry, after National Infrastructures Minister Uzi
Landau signed the deal with Cyprus on Friday.
RELATED:Cyprus, Israel sign deal demarcating sea borders'We have no intention to apologize to Turkey for flotilla'
Turkish Foreign Ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu warned the
Israeli envoy that the agreement would adversely impact negotiations to
end the division of Cyprus between its Turkish and Greek sides.
"Such unilateral moves that ignore the will of the Turkish Cypriot side
will harm ongoing settlement talks on the island," AFP quoted
Sinirlioglu as saying.
An Israeli government source rejected Turkey's objections to the deal on Sunday, Israel Radio reported.
There is no connection between the Turkey-Cyprus maritime border and the Israel-Cyprus maritime border, the source maintained.
The Israeli source added that Turkish claims to the maritime area based on their
occupation of northern Cyprus constitute "chutzpa that is unheard of in
the international arena."
Turkey strongly objects to the Greek Cypriot search for oil and gas
inside the island's 51,000 square-kilometer (17,000 sq. mile) exclusive
economic zone off its southern coast, saying it also has rights and
interests in the area.
Cyprus was split into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north
in 1974 when Turkey invaded in response to a coup by supporters of union
with Greece. The island joined the EU in 2004, but only the
internationally recognized south enjoys membership benefits. Turkey only
recognizes the breakaway north where it maintains 35,000 troops.
Cyprus has similar agreements with Egypt and Lebanon, but the Lebanese parliament has yet to ratify the deal.
Cyprus Energy Service Director Solon Kassinis said Cyprus' agreement with Israel "doesn't conflict" with its deal with Lebanon.
Lebanese lawmakers have said that some of Israel's recently discovered
gas fields stretch into Lebanese territorial waters. Israel has denied
The Lebanese terror group Hizbullah has threatened to use force to protect Lebanon's natural wealth.