Turkey snubs energy deals with Israel over Gaza op
Energy minister says construction of Turkey-Israel gas pipeline unlikely after IDF Operation Protective Edge.
Ankara is unlikely to sign any energy deals with Israel for the construction of a gas pipeline to Turkey because of a deepening political rift over Israel's Gaza operation, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Tuesday.



Ties were severely damaged following a 2010 raid by Israeli commandoes on a Turkish vessel carrying pro-Palestinian activists in direct defiance of a Gaza blockade in 2010. But Israeli firms had more recently held fruitful talks with Turkish private companies and energy officials as part of a tentative rapprochement.


However, President Tayyip Erdogan vociferously criticized the IDF operation against Hamas – after the Gaza group launched ceaseless barrages on Israeli towns – comparing Israel's actions to those of Hitler.


Tamar natural gas off-shore platform (Photo: Albatross)
Tamar natural gas off-shore platform (Photo: Albatross)

Israel has turned into a potential gas exporter overnight with the discovery of Tamar and Leviathan, two of the largest gas finds in the past decade. Tamar began production in March 2013, and its partners have already signed a number of lucrative deals in Israel.


Talks between the Leviathan consortium and Turkish counterparts have seen slow progress over the last year. A political solution has always been the condition for an ultimate deal.


"For energy projects to proceed, the human tragedy in Gaza will have to be stopped and Israel will have to instate a permanent peace there with all elements," Minister Yildiz told reporters in Ankara.


"It is out of question to proceed on any energy project unless a permanent peace is established, with contribution from all sides and with necessary conditions. A human tragedy unfolded (in Gaza), it is all too easily forgotten."


Leviathan off-shore drilling platform (Photo: Alabatross) (Photo: Albatross Aerial photography)
Leviathan off-shore drilling platform (Photo: Alabatross)


Turkey was once Israel's closest strategic ally in the region. But Erdogan has been a strident critic of Israel's policy on the Palestinians and has been highly critical of the Jewish state.


Pro-Palestinian sentiment runs high in mostly Sunni Muslim Turkey and protestors had repeatedly taken to the streets in July to demonstrate against the IDF operation, prompting Israel to reduce diplomatic presence in Turkey.


The talks between Israel and Turkey have focused on building a 10 billion cubic meter (bcm) sub-sea pipeline at an expected cost of $2.2 billion, giving Israel access to a major emerging market and one of Europe's biggest power markets by 2023.


Despite the opposition in political and business circles in Turkey, Israeli businessmen are still holding out hope that a deal may be struck in time.


Yitzhak Tshuva, the billionaire owner of Delek Group, the main partner in Leviathan, told Reuters this week that he remained optimistic about a deal being struck with Turkey once the current political chill passes.


"I believe, yes, and I want (an agreement)," he said.


פרסום ראשון: 09.09.14, 19:17
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