Turkey Conditions Possible Energy Deals With Israel on Gaza Outcome

ISTANBUL (Reuters/Hamodia) -

Turkey is unlikely to sign any energy deals with Israel for the construction of a gas pipeline to Turkey because of a deepening political rift over the  Gaza war, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Tuesday.

Talks between the Leviathan consortium and Turkish counterparts have seen some progress over the last year, but a diplomatic rapprochement between the two countries has always been the condition for an ultimate deal.

Turkey has taken the side of Hamas, denouncing Operation Protective Edge and calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza.

“For energy projects to proceed, the human tragedy in Gaza will have to be stopped and Israel will have to instate a permanent peace there with all elements,” Minister Yildiz told reporters in Ankara.

The talks between Israel and Turkey have focused on building a 10 billion cubic metre (bcm) sub-sea pipeline at an expected cost of $2.2 billion, giving Israel access to a major emerging market and one of Europe’s biggest power markets by 2023.

Despite the opposition in political and business circles in Turkey, Israeli businessmen are still holding out hope that a deal may be struck in time.

Yitzchak Tshuva, the billionaire owner of Delek Group, the main partner in Leviathan, told Reuters this week that he remained optimistic about a deal being struck with Turkey once the current political chill passes.

“I believe, yes, and I want [an agreement],” he said.