Benjamin Netanyahu lauds gas exports as regional obstacles grow

Jordanian Parliament votes to stop importing Israeli resource, Turkey flexes its muscles in Eastern Mediterranean

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for a photo before signing a deal to build the EastMed subsea pipeline to carry natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe, at the Zappeion Hall in Athens, Gree (photo credit: REUTERS/ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS)
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for a photo before signing a deal to build the EastMed subsea pipeline to carry natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe, at the Zappeion Hall in Athens, Gree
(photo credit: REUTERS/ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extolled the start of exports of natural gas on Sunday, but regional tensions have created obstacles in the way of expanding those exports.
“Last week, we started to stream gas to Egypt. We turned Israel into an energy superpower,” Netanyahu said in Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “This is a seminal economic event – a seminal diplomatic event – because this is very great news and an agreement that Israel initiated in the Middle East and is spreading to the Arab World and into Europe.”
Yet within an hour of Netanyahu’s remarks, the Jordanian Parliament approved an urgent request that the government submit a bill prohibiting gas import deals with the Israel’s government. However, should the proposal become law, the current agreement that has gas flowing from Israel will stay intact because it is with a private company, Texas-based Noble Energy, Jordanian MP Ahmed al-Ferihat told local news site Al-Mamlaka.
The deal to supply gas to Jordan was signed on March 21 of last year, and since then, Parliament has voted to cancel it several times. The votes are not binding on the government, and Jordan received its first natural gas supplies from Israel at the beginning of this year.
Over the weekend, the European Union came out against Turkey’s overstepping into Cyprus’s economic waters, tension that increases doubts about the feasibility of the planned European Mediterranean Pipeline from Israel via Cyprus to Greece, where it will then connect in another pipeline to Italy.
Greece, Israel and Cyprus signed an agreement on January 1 to build the 1,900- km. natural gas pipeline.
Turkey announced on Friday that it plans to drill for oil and gas off Cyprus, in what is recognized by most of the world to be a Cypriot maritime zone and was already licensed by Nicosia to French and Italian energy companies.
This comes two months after Turkey, which occupies Northern Cyprus, signed an agreement with the Libyan government in Tripoli, creating a maritime link between them by which each country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) goes 200 km. beyond their shores, far beyond their territorial waters. Last month, Turkey already tried to exercise the authority it took upon itself, with its navy ordering an Israeli research ship out of Cyprus’s waters.
Last year, the EU warned Turkey that it would impose sanctions if it did not stop these activities.
On Saturday, a spokesman for EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell Fontelles emphasized that an expansion of Turkish drilling and exploration in Cyprus’ EEZ goes “in the opposite direction” of dialogue in good faith.
“The international law of the sea, the principle of good neighborly relations and the sovereignty and sovereign rights over the maritime zones of all [EU] member states have to be respected,” he said. “All members of the international community must abide by these principles and should refrain from any actions undermining regional stability and security.”
Cyprus’s president’s office said, “Turkey is turning into a pirate state,” which is “going on the path of international illegality.”
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio expressed uncertainty on Saturday to the Turkish Anadolu Agency, as to whether EastMed Pipeline Project would be economically wise, calling to evaluate its cost.
“I believe that this infrastructure, which can play a positive role in diversifying European resources, must prove that it can attract the necessary capital for its construction and [that] it can be economically sustainable,” he said.


Tags Egypt gas