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Israel and Turkey move closer to restored ties, and a possible export route for Israeli gas

AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici, File
By Steve LeVine
CyprusPublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

It’s taken nearly three years for Israel and Turkey to have a fruitful tete-a-tete over the Israeli commando raid on a Turkish flotilla bound for Gaza. In a move that could restore what was once the closest relationship between Israel and a Muslim country, the two countries signed a draft agreement to compensate Turkey for the deaths of nine protestors aboard the flotilla. The accord, if finalized in the capitals of both countries, could lead to the restoration of full diplomatic ties.

The agreement, reached last night in Jerusalem after eight hours of talks, leaves open unstated details, according to the Jerusalem Post. “The delegations reached an agreed draft, but further clarifications are required on certain subjects,” the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement.

Among Israel’s aims is to reopen a vital trade route, including for its massive finds of natural gas in the East Mediterranean. All together, companies have discovered the natural gas equivalent of some 4.6 billion barrels of oil in Israel’s portion of the eastern Mediterranean. Drillers have found another 1 billion oil equivalent barrels off the shores of Cyprus.

But neither country currently has a route to market. Cyprus and Turkey have four-decade-long animosities, and must reach a separate accord if Cypriot gas is to get to market through Turkey. The accord yesterday evening would clear the way for a proposed undersea pipeline from Israel through Turkey.

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