Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Wednesday Israeli and Cypriot energy exploration in the Mediterranean was illegal, agreement should first be reached with all relevant parties, and resources should be equally shared.

Turkey and Cyprus are in dispute over the energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean and Texas-based Noble Energy started drilling in September a Cypriot offshore block abutting another block controlled by Israel.

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The Foreign Ministry shot back at the Turkish accusation, telling The Jerusalem Post that, "Israel strictly abides by international law."

"If Turkey wants to lay claim to Israeli resources then it should do so through the UN and not through the media," the ministry spokesperson said.

Turkey is the only government to recognize the breakaway northern Cyprus, run by a Turkish Cypriot administration, as a separate state, though it backs reunification talks.

In September, Turkey began exploring for gas in an offshore zone where Cyprus had started drilling the previous week.

Israel is also drilling nearby, and the issue has emerged as a further bone of contention between Turkey and the Jewish state. Long Israel's rare Middle East ally, Ankara has downgraded ties over Israel's refusal to apologize for a deadly raid last year on a Turkish aid flotilla.

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