Sending Israeli gas through Turkey unlikely to improve bilateral relations, expert says

BESA director to ‘Post’: Turks need to diversify energy sources from Iran and Russia

By
September 3, 2015 18:52
1 minute read.
gas

Israel Navy missile ship patrols near gas field‏. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The belief that sending Israeli gas through Turkey will lead Ankara to decide to improve relations with Jerusalem “is not grounded in facts,” an Israeli expert on Turkey told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, responding to a report in an Istanbul-based paper saying that Turkey is the best route for Israeli gas to Europe, said, “Turkish-Israeli trade is currently blooming despite Turkish hostility toward the Jewish state.”

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The article by Ebru Sengul appeared in the Daily Sabah pro-government newspaper.

Israel regards other alternatives, such as going through Cyprus, as too costly and hence, piping it through Turkey “would be advantageous,” Sengul wrote.

Energy companies view a pipeline passing through Turkey as the cheapest and best option to transfer Israeli gas, said Sengul.

Inbar pointed out that “while there is some merit to the argument that a pipeline via Cyprus to Turkey makes economic sense, energy is not only about money, but is a strategic commodity.

“The Turkish argument is self-serving, because they need to diversify their energy sources [away] from Iran and Russia and want to solidify Turkey’s role as an energy bridge to Europe.

“Why should Israel strengthen Turkey’s international position?” Inbar asked.

Sengul also said, “Following an Israeli confrontation with the Mavi Marmara, a Gaza-bound Turkish humanitarian flotilla, in 2010, Israel turned away from Turkey and toward Greece and Cyprus, whereupon Israeli officials said trilateral relations among them reached a peak.

“However, Israel is worried about realizing the project without first achieving normalization. Israeli authorities said they have a lot to lose, and they have to wait for now,” the article continued.

The article comes amid a flurry of recent reports that relations between Turkey and Israel could improve despite major remaining obstacles, including the ruling AK Party’s Islamist ideology and support for groups such as Hamas.

Foreign Ministry director- general Dore Gold told the Post last week he is “hopeful that in the not-too-distant future Israel and Turkey will find a way to reestablish their relationship.”

Gold, who held secret talks in Rome in June with his Turkish counterpart, Feridun Sinirlioglu, said that regional developments and challenges are compelling Ankara to make some changes of its own.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.


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