image Photo: Reuters

Turkey “very hopeful” for energy deal with Israel

Jerusalem and Ankara have in recent weeks been working to mend their long-strained ties, and energy has emerged as a potential area of cooperation.

By Erin Viner

Turkish President Recep Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been cited as saying he is “very, very hopeful” for energy cooperation with Israel, and that he intends to discuss the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

“If we discuss this subject with Bennett after Ramadan and we take steps immediately, the process will accelerate for Israel-Turkey cooperation, east Mediterranean crude oil and natural gas,” he told reporters aboard his plane returning from a visit to Uzbekistan.

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins tomorrow.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog traveled to Ankara to hold talks with Erdoğan, in what was the first such trip by an Israeli leader since 2008 as the regional rivals seek to overcome years of animosity.

The two countries expelled the other’s ambassadors in 2018 and have often traded barbs primarily over Israel’s presence on the West Bank, Turkish support for the Islamist Hamas terrorist rulers of Gaza who are committed to Israel’s destruction, and Ankara’s ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Despite intense rhetoric against Israel vis-à-vis its presence in Judea and Samaria, economically-challenged Turkey maintains its wish to repair its once-strong alliance with the Jewish State.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told the A Haber broadcaster that he plans to travel to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority with Energy Minister Fatih Donmez in mid-May, at which time he will discuss the appointment of ambassadors with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid.

In related developments, Çavuşoğlu said that a potential gas pipeline project between Turkey and Israel is not possible in the short-term. He added that it is also unlikely that construction of an alternative system to reduce his nation’s dependence on Russia will happen quickly.