Israel and Turkey are preparing to complete an agreement that would soon see Israeli gas flowing to its newly reconciled former ally, the country’s energy minister said, days after the two nations signed a rapprochement agreement to end years of frosty ties.
The completion of the deal could mean Turkey receives Israeli gas “within three years,” Berat Albayrak said, Israel’s Channel 10 television reported Friday.
Albayrak is the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu predicted Monday that the reconciliation deal, which both sides negotiated for months, would dramatically boost Israel’s economy.
“I think it’s an important step here to normalize relations on one side. It has also immense implications for the Israeli economy… and I mean positive immense implications,” Netanyahu said during a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome, hours before, to present the full terms of the agreement.
The prime minister hinted that Israel’s natural gas reserves were a crucial element of the pact with Turkey.
However, he did not elaborate.
Israel’s energy minister, Yuval Steinitz, told the annual Herzliya Conference last month that vast quantities of undiscovered natural gas likely exist under Israeli territorial waters in the Mediterranean Sea, which Israel was mulling selling to Turkey.
“Another find will turn Israel into a gas exporter, and we’re examining the feasibility of installing a gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey at a reasonable cost,” Steinitz said. “If the predictions are correct, and other reservoirs are discovered, Israel will become a major gas exporter to Western Europe.”
Previously tight relations between Israel and Turkey were significantly downgraded after Israeli commandos staged a May 2010 raid on a six-ship flotilla trying to breach Israel’s security blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip — intercepting the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara.
The commandos were violently attacked by those on board, and nine Turkish citizens, including one with American citizenship, were killed in the ensuing melee. A 10 citizen died of his wounds years later. A number of Israeli soldiers were injured in the raid.
Under the reported terms of the deal, Israel will allow the completion of a hospital in Gaza, as well as the construction of a new power station and a desalination plant for drinking water.
Turkey has also committed to keeping terror group Hamas from carrying out activities against Israel from its country, the Hebrew-language media reported.
AFP contributed to this report