Tensions halt Turkey-Israel energy collaboration plans
Shortly after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "Hamas is not a terrorist organization but a group of freedom fighters," during a group meeting of the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) meeting, there were rumors that Turkey had canceled its agreements to cooperate with Israel on energy matters.
Bloomberg News, citing a source directly familiar with the matter, reported that Turkey has shelved its joint natural gas exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean with Israel. Furthermore, plans for a pipeline to import gas to Europe have also been suspended.
The report also highlighted that the planned trip of the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Alparslan Bayraktar, to Israel for bilateral discussions has been canceled.
What was planned?
In the recent period, President Erdogan announced initiating energy drilling collaborations with Israel, saying, "We will start energy drilling work with Israel. Not only will we supply Turkey, but we will also start operating energy transmission lines from Turkey to Europe. Especially, energy collaborations can take us to very different places."
Israel has proven reserves of 750 billion cubic meters of gas. In 2022, Israel produced approximately 22 bcm of gas, of which 10 billion cubic meters were sold to Egypt and Jordan. Following Russia's diminishing power in the European market, Israel prioritizes exporting gas to the EU.
Since 2014, discussions have been ongoing between the Republic of Cyprus, Greece, and Israel about the Eastern Mediterranean European Gas Pipeline, which was canceled in 2021 following the withdrawal of the U.S. Israel, after this cancellation, began looking for alternative routes to export gas to Europe, with Turkey emerging as a prominent option due to its strategic location.
What did Erdogan say?
In today's AKP group meeting, Erdogan described Hamas as a "liberation and group of freedom fighters." Addressing Western views on Hamas, he said, "The entire West may see Hamas as a terrorist organization, but Israel, you might be an organization because the West owes you a lot, but Turkey owes you nothing. Hamas is not a terrorist organization; they are a liberation and mujahideen group fighting to protect their land."
Regarding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Erdogan commented, "I once shook hands with a man named Netanyahu in my life. We had good intentions, but they took advantage of them. We had plans to visit Israel; we canceled them, and we will not go."