Photo Credit: Moshe Shai / Flash 90
The Tamar natural gas rig 24 km off the coast of Israel (archive).

The crisis over Ukraine in 2022 has illustrated just how important the diversification of the sources of European gas has become and the urgency of finding alternatives to Russian gas, if only to reduce Moscow’s leverage over Europe and the NATO alliance. The EU Foreign Policy Chief, Josep Borrell, was able to voice a united policy for Europe, in January 2022, based on his view that “we must reduce our dependency on Russian energy.”1

Coming up with a solution to the Russian gas question for Europe also has an Israeli angle.2 The new Israeli government, headed by Prime Minister Bennet, modified Israeli energy policy; the Israeli Minister of Energy, Karine Elharrar, appeared to be adopting some of the preferences of the U.S. renewable energy industry. Indeed, she halted the granting of licenses for natural gas exploration for one year while her ministry devoted its efforts to work on renewable energy.

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Despite the postponement of Israel’s gas pipeline to Europe by the Biden administration, for reasons that are not entirely clear, Israeli gas is still used for its Middle Eastern partners, particularly Egypt and Jordan. For the last decade, Iran has been seeking to export its gas to Iraq and even Jordan, thereby extending its influence to Israel’s east.

With the anticipated improvement of Israeli ties to Turkey, Ankara could emerge as an export hub for Israeli gas in the future. Thus, in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine, there are multiple reasons why the work on the East Med pipeline must be resumed as soon as possible, along with gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean. Moreover, increasing the supply of gas to the West will also help drive down its price, thereby undermining Russia’s ability to fund its war machine in the future.

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Notes

1 “Top diplomat Borrell: EU must reduce energy decency on Russia amid Ukraine conflict,” Thibault Spirlet, Politico, January 25, 2022.

2 “Who wins and loses as energy minister halts gas exploration?” Guy Lieberman, Globes, January 22, 2022.

{Reposted from the JCPA website}

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Dore Gold is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; Former Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador of Israel to the United Nations