Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will soon meet in Ankara. Although the date has not yet been determined, the main topic that will be on the table is already clear: a deal to export natural gas from Israel, through Turkey, to Europe.
Until a few years ago, an official meeting between the Turkish president and the Israeli prime minister seemed like a distant dream, but in the last two years in Ankara, they have changed their attitude. Last year, when Naftali Bennett served as Prime Minister, Erdogan tried to convince Jerusalem that the most worthwhile route for the export of Israeli gas was Turkey and it seems that the efforts of persuasion continue until this moment.
Why is Ankara so eager to sign an agreement? Conversations conducted by Globes with sources privy to the details indicate that Erdogan’s office believes that the delivery of Israeli gas to Europe will provide Turkey with a significant lever of pressure on the West, when Ankara will become the country that sits on the counter of supplying natural gas to Europe.
Ankara operates an extensive infrastructure of pipelines that transport gas through the Black Sea and its eastern borders to all of Europe. Currently, this pipeline network carries gas from three countries: Russia, Azerbaijan, and Iran – two of which are known for strained relations with the West, and in particular for the lack of stability of their gas supply. Russian gas has been embargoed for more than a year by the Western countries and Tehran is in the habit of lowering and increasing its gas supply according to its political needs. Thus, Turkey is left with an almost unprecedented infrastructure, but with gas sources that are partly unstable.
This is probably the reason why Erdogan’s office marked the Israeli gas, and in particular the Leviathan reservoir, which is known not only for its significant size, but also for its reliable production level and strategic location – 120 km west of Haifa, and not far from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which Ankara has recognized as a country and is interested in supplying gas to Ankara does not face a shortage of natural gas, and therefore most, if not all, of the gas exports from Israel are expected to go through it to Europe.