How will Turkey's agreement with Israel change the power equation in the Mediterranean? - ERDAL TANAS KARAGÖL

How will Turkey's agreement with Israel change the power equation in the Mediterranean?

The vital point of Turkey-Israel relations is the Palestine issue. Turkey's sensitivity toward this issue increased after the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power. Despite the Palestine fault line, economic and diplomatic relations continued until then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's “One Minute” scolding.

A year after this incident the Mavi Marmara raid occurred on May 31, 2010. After this incident, Turkey's negative attitude toward Israel did not change despite all mediation attempts. Turkey had conditions to reestablish diplomatic relations. Six years later, Israel accepted these conditions.

Israel already has obligatory relations with the countries in the region. However, the real reason behind Israel wanting to restart its diplomatic and economic relations is “power.”

The dynamics of the global power equation changed after 2010. New developments took place in power, especially in the region. Therefore, naturally Israel sought not to be left out of the equation.

What changed in the power equation of the region that caused Israel to be concerned?

Turkey started the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP), which expects to buy gas from Azerbaijan for itself and to serve as a bridge between TANAP and the interested EU countries. Many actors in the power field are aiming to establish close ties with Turkey in order to realize mutual energy projects.

The removal of sanctions from Iran has brought Iran back into the power equation. It is evident that Iran wants to enter the world markets and turn its resource into income.

The Northern Iraq Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is determined to cooperate with Turkey in selling its gas and petrol on global markets despite experiencing problems with its central government.

The Turkish Stream project was shelved after the Russia-Turkey plane crisis. Being 50 percent dependent on Russia for its power, Turkey sought alternatives, while many countries want to serve Turkey in this field.

Therefore a pre-agreement was signed with Qatar's liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter in order to avoid the negative effects of the energy crisis with Russia. Within this scope, the new period of constructing a power storage and gasification terminal has started.

Turkey making power agreements with different countries strengthens it in the power equation of the region. Regional countries are becoming interested in Turkey for energy agreements.

In addition to all this, Israel's energy report does not look good at all.

HOW WILL ISRAEL CHANGE THE POWER EQUATION?

The groundwork for the agreements with Egypt and Jordan is not ready yet. Another question is: To whom will Israel sell the gas it discovered in Leviathan and Tamar in 2009? Will it transport this natural gas through the LNG line or pipelines? Besides, it needs investments to do this transfer as well as financing.

In this respect, Turkey offers a low-cost and secure route. Israel will provide Turkey with natural gas and also use Turkey as a bridge to supply the EU market with natural gas. Otherwise it is very hard for Israel to enter the global market without Turkey's help.

Thus, Turkey's strategic position is very important for Israel's natural gas to meet the demand. Yet, while Turkey uses its advantage it should not forget that this natural gas is actually Palestine's.

THE POWER EQUATION IS OPEN TO NEW MOVES

Northern Iraq entering the EU market with TANAP and Israel entering it with other projects restricts Russian and Iranian hegemony in the region.

Therefore Israel will try to create competition among regional competitors like Iran and Russia in order to provide energy to the EU market via Turkey. This will especially effect Iran in revising the high prices it requests from Turkey for natural gas.

Israel having the upper hand in energy directly depends on its relations with Turkey. Turkey should consider Israel's request to negotiate within the parameters of both diplomacy and energy dynamics.

Every step Turkey takes will determine the future of Palestine and the dynamics of the regional power equation.

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