Israel’s Revolutionary Plan to Provide Europe with Natural Gas

Last month, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy announced a plan to construct a pipeline for the export of natural gas from Israel’s offshore reservoirs to Europe. This plan, writes Emmanuel Navon, is a rejection of Turkey, through which it would be technically simpler to build such a pipeline. While such a project has been considered, Istanbul’s strained relations with Jerusalem under the rule of the anti-Semitic, pro-Hamas Recep Tayyip Erdogan have made it unfeasible. Navon explores the greater geopolitical implications:

Natural gas has turned Greece from a rival [of Israel] to an ally just as relations between Israel and Turkey started deteriorating. . . . In 2010, Benjamin Netanyahu became the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Greece, and the Israeli and Greek air forces started their first joint military exercises. In September 2011, Israel and Greece signed a security-cooperation agreement. Israel now uses Greek airspace for training purposes. Turkey, [meanwhile], is opposed to the Israel-Cypriot partnership in natural gas, but it has not been able to stop it. . . . This is a blow to Turkey as it is trying to reduce its [energy] dependency on Russia. . . .

Israel, Greece, and Cyprus all benefit from the natural-gas partnership: Israel acquires stronger leverage and strategic value vis-à-vis the European Union by becoming a natural-gas exporter; Greece is acquiring the status of an energy hub; Cyprus gains regional and international importance. . . .

The emerging eastern Mediterranean partnership for natural gas is no less than revolutionary. Historically, energy was the Achilles’ heel of Israel’s foreign policy. It is now an asset, thanks to the decline of the “oil weapon” [once wielded by Arab states] and to the increased importance of natural gas in the world’s energy market. Thanks to the new pipeline, Israel will eventually become a natural-gas exporter to Europe, without depending on Turkey. This tectonic change will grant Israel increased leverage in its relations with the EU.

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies

More about: Cyprus, Europe and Israel, Greece, Israel & Zionism, Italy, Natural Gas, Turkey

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security