This is news that goes back to the beginning of last month but is made all the more interesting by an article which I read only today and which quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on February 16th as saying that “Cyprus is working with Israel, 300 miles (480 kilometers) south across the Mediterranean Sea,“Cyprus is working with Israel, 300 miles (480 kilometers) south across the Mediterranean Sea, on the potential construction of a pipeline to connect their gas fields“. Well, that apparently adds information to the last month’s news which only stated that Israel and Cyprus said that they planned to cooperate on gas production. The gas would then be exported to energy-hungry Europe via Greece.
Of course, with Noble Energy Inc. of Houston and Israel’s Delek Group both involved in the exploitation of the reserves, it should come as no surprise that the Russian giant Gazprom is interested in entering into a partnership in the biggest gas zone found so far in Israel’s exclusive economic zone, the Leviathan field. After all, although waters off northern Cyprus have been claimed for oil and gas exploration by Turkey, and, although, Lebanon is also stepping up exploration in its waters, it is difficult to imagine that “territorial disputes will have to be resolved first or the potential will remain untapped.” Indeed, it is safe to hypothesise that American, Israeli and, with Gazprom, Russian, shared interests will prevail in the region.
Moreover, while we might expect Turkey to claim at least some of the spoils, we shouldn’t read too much into an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman’s statement that the Lebanese have consistently rejected negotiations on border issues, “whether territorial or maritime”, and that they have instead submitted their claims to the UN, leaving Israel no alternative but “to submit its own claims to the United Nations.” Firstly, how can Beruit enter into negotiations with a state which it doesn’t recognise and, secondly, how can it discuss border issues with a state that has not defined its borders. For the sake of the Lebanese, we can only hope that their claims are recognised, otherwise, expect the beginning of just one more big theft in the region, a theft which will, no doubt, begin with the reserves that are believed to be in Gaza.