Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Wednesday with the prime ministers of Greece and Cyprus, three days after trading sharp insults with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Both Cyprus and Greece are historic foes of Turkey, and Israel’s relationship with both countries improved significantly over the last decade, partly as a result of the deterioration of Jerusalem’s relationship with Ankara. According to a statement put out by the Prime Minister’s Office, the talks discussed regional issues, as well as the feasibility of laying a pipeline from Israel to Cyprus, and from there to Greece and onward to Italy.A memorandum of understanding regarding the pipeline was signed in December.Turkey, keen on diversifying its energy sources, has in the past expressed an interest in Israel laying a pipeline to Turkey, one of the reasons proffered for Erdogan’s willingness to resume full diplomatic relations with Israel in 2016, despite his oft-express enmity toward the Jewish state.While the alternative of exporting gas to Europe through Turkey would be the cheaper option, Jerusalem is skeptical because of the constant friction with Erdogan’s Turkey.In February, Israel signed a $15 billion agreement to export gas to Egypt.Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot Prime Minister Nicos Anastasiades are slated to hold a summit in Nicosia next month. This will be the fourth time since 2016 that the three will hold a summit.Cyprus’s Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides was in Israel two weeks ago, and a large part of his meeting with Israeli officials – including with Netanyahu – focused on what the Cypriots described as Turkey’s “provocative actions” in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus where the country hopes to develop a large natural gas field.In February, Turkish warships blocked a vessel bound for drilling activities in its waters. Turkey has occupied northern Cyprus since 1974, and charges that Cypriot drilling does not take into consideration the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the north to the island’s resources.
Turkey"s Erdogan calls Israeli PM "a terrorist", April 1, 2018 (Reuters)