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

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf