Thursday, October 13, 2016

Israel, Turkey discuss joint gas pipeline as ties resume after six-year dissent

Israel and Turkey have discussed the possibility of building a natural gas pipeline between the two countries, Israel’s energy minister said on Oct. 13, in the first Israeli ministerial visit to Turkey since relations came to a halt in 2010.

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told reporters that he agreed at a meeting in Istanbul with his Turkish counterpart Berat Albayrak to “immediately establish a dialogue between our two governments” to examine the project’s feasibility.

“We discussed energy in general and particularly the issue of natural gas and the possibility of building a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey in order to deliver natural gas to Turkey and to Europe,” Steinitz said, Reuters reported.

“There are other options, but the Turkey option is a strong one,” he noted, adding that both counties have decided to create dialogue both on governmental and ministerial levels about this issue.

Israel and Turkey signed a deal in June to restore ties, which hit an all-time low after the 2010 raid by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound aid ship that killed 10 Turks. 

Israel paid Turkey $20 million in compensation for the deadly raid, an amount that Turkish authorities say has been transferred to the account of the Justice Ministry, due to be passed onto families of the victims who lodged cases at Turkish courts. 

Israel also made a formal apology for the raid and agreed to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip. 

The blockade remains in place but Israel has allowed Turkish aid to reach Gaza through Israeli ports under the deal. 

Turkey and Israel are now set to restore full diplomatic relations, including the exchange of ambassadors who were pulled out of the respective capitals after the crisis.

Steinitz’s visit marks the first visit at ministerial level between the two countries in six years.





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