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

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship