Amid increased regional tensions over natural offshore resource exploration, Turkish naval forces intercepted an Israeli research ship in in Cyprus’ territorial waters and reportedly escorted from the area.
The Israeli vessel is owned by the Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute and had been operating in coordination with Nicosia officials. The Turkish naval vessels allegedly ordered the Israeli ship to immediately cease its activities and move further south.
The incident comes just weeks after Turkey signed a deal with Libya, in which a deal was mapped out dividing the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Turkey was granted territorial waters recognized by the international community as belonging to Cyprus and Greece.
Turkish Foreign Ministry officials have warned Jerusalem diplomats that Israel’s plans for a pipeline from its vast underwater natural gas reservoirs in cooperation with Athens and Nicosia cannot proceed with Ankara’s authorization. In addition, a high-ranking Turkish energy official has reportedly conveyed his country’s readiness to negotiate the transfer of the Israeli resource to Europe but has been awaiting the formation of a stable government in Jerusalem and subsequent appointment of a new energy minister to discuss the matter.