The newly elected Israeli government appears set to inject new life into the prospective East Med gas pipeline, its interest emerging one year after the US had announced it would no longer support the project, a stance now likely to be revised.
Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen expressed the country’s interest in the project to his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias during the latter’s official visit to Israel earlier this week.
The prospective pipeline is planned to cover a total distance of 2,000 kilometers, of which over 1,400 kilometers will run underwater, to connect Israel, Cyprus and Greece before crossing to Italy visa the Poseidon pipeline, a 210-kilometer stretch.
“We agreed to the exportation of Israeli gas through Greece and Cyprus, which will reach all of Europe. At a time of global energy crisis, it will strengthen our international position and bring a lot of money to the country,” Cohen, Israel’s foreign minister, announced following his meeting with his Greek counterpart.
Reiterating this interest, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has returned to the country’s top post after his Likud party formed a coalition with ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies, announced that he instructed the head of Israel’s National Security Council to initiate a trilateral meeting of the leaders of Greece, Israel and Cyprus for energy-related talks.
Tel Aviv is seeking to reimpose itself as a force in eastern Mediterranean energy matters.
The East Med gas pipeline plan is likely to be on the agenda when US secretary of state Antony Blinken visits Athens on February 21 and 22.
East Med has gained renewed significance as Europe is looking for alternative sources of natural gas and major oil companies, especially US firms such as ExxonMobil, focusing on a venture south of Crete, are involved in hydrocarbon exploration efforts in the eastern Mediterranean.
Given the strained Israeli-Turkish ties, Israeli officials know well that the development of a gas pipeline across Turkey is not a viable option.