Turkey has reportedly suspended its joint exploration of energy resources with Israel in the Mediterranean, as well as its plans to export gas to Europe. The decision comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Israel over the bombardment of Gaza and canceled his previously-planned visit to the state.
Speaking in parliament, Erdogan stated that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, is not a terrorist organization but rather a liberation group fighting for the protection of its lands and people. He condemned Israel’s attacks on Gaza and announced the cancellation of the planned project with Israel. Erdogan also mentioned his previous meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stating that he will not visit Israel again.
Furthermore, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Alparslan Bayraktar, who was supposed to visit Israel to discuss natural gas exploration and pipeline work in the Eastern Mediterranean, has also canceled his plans.
The strained relations between Turkey and Israel date back to 2010 when Turkey froze its ties with Israel following an Israeli raid on a Turkish ship carrying aid supplies to Gaza, resulting in the deaths of 10 civilians. However, during a meeting at the UN in September, Erdogan and Netanyahu agreed on reciprocal visits and increasing energy cooperation. Erdogan also shared plans for joint energy drilling with Israel and the establishment of networks for energy transmission to Europe through Turkey.
However, the situation changed on October 7 as the Gaza conflict escalated. Hamas launched an attack on Israel, resulting in hundreds of casualties and the capture of over 200 hostages. In response, Israel carried out massive airstrikes on Gaza and implemented a blockade, cutting off vital resources such as electricity, water, fuel, and medical supplies. Palestinian officials claim that more than 6,500 people have been killed, while Israel reports 1,405 casualties on their side.
President Erdogan strongly criticized Israel’s retaliatory actions, highlighting that a significant number of those killed in the bombings were innocent children and their mothers. He accused West Jerusalem of committing acts of savagery on a level that can be considered crimes against humanity, rather than acting in self-defense as it claims.
This recent development in Turkey-Israel relations further exacerbates the already strained ties between the two nations. The future of the joint exploration of energy resources in the Mediterranean and the plans for gas export to Europe remain uncertain. It is apparent that the ongoing conflict in Gaza has had a significant impact on the diplomatic and economic relations between Turkey and Israel. The suspension of these energy projects reflects Turkey’s strong stance in support of Palestine and its condemnation of Israel’s actions in the region.
It remains to be seen how these recent events will affect the broader geopolitical dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean region and the efforts to achieve stability and cooperation in the energy sector.