In Its Search for Stable Allies, Israel Should Look Elsewhere Than the Persian Gulf

December 27, 2019 | Dmitri Shufutinsky
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Much has been made of Jerusalem’s improving relations with the Persian Gulf states, but valuable as these diplomatic efforts may be, the countries involved have remained hesitant about the normalization of relations, are plagued by anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel, and have little to offer economically. Moreover, the stability of their regimes is questionable. Dmitri Shufutinsky argues that a more fruitful course can be found in expanding economic, diplomatic, and military ties with southeastern Europe, beginning with Greece and Cyprus. And fossil fuels provide a way to do so:

Israel can develop and connect its Leviathan gas fields to Cyprus’s Aphrodite fields. A gas pipeline could run through Cyprus to Greece and through the Balkans, up to Romania, and westward to Italy. If Egypt can overcome its differences with Israel and cooperate, it could attach its Zohr gas fields to the regional pipeline as well. Doing so would lift the Egyptian, Greek, and Cypriot economies out of poverty and massively benefit the Israeli economy.

In addition to natural gas, it is also possible for Israel to develop its oil supplies in the Negev, the Golan Heights, and near Jerusalem, and connect them to an additional pipeline.

Important military, economic, and diplomatic opportunities could result [as well]. . . . Southeastern Europe has blocked harmful anti-Israel EU resolutions and is more inclined to support Jerusalem than to support Ramallah. Making Europe more dependent on Israeli energy exports would deepen this relationship while prying Brussels loose from its dependency on Iranian and Arab oil. That alone would weaken the EU’s automatic pro-Palestinian stance.

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