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In the Ties Between Turkey and Israel Geo-Economics Should Trump Geo-Politics
In the hour of need, when the Russian-Turkish diplomatic confrontation over the downed Russian Su-24 jet, Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his willingness to sell natural gas to Turkey. Turkey is going to experience crunch in energy as the result of an escalating anti-Turkish sanctions imposed by Russia since the incident, when the two Turkish F-15s downed the Russian SU-24 jet which entered for about 15 seconds the Turkish airspace on November 24. Turkey imports 60 percent of its natural gas from Russia and Russia, undoubtedly, is going to use an “energy” weapon to pressure Turkey like it did in in 1996 and 1999 against Ukraine.
An here geo-economics enters the picture. Geo-economics may be defined in two different ways: as the relationship between economic policy and changes in national power and geopolitics (in other words, the geopolitical consequences of economic phenomena); or as the economic consequences of trends in geopolitics and national power. Both the notion that ‘trade follows the flag’ (that the projection of national power has economic consequences) and that ‘the flag follows trade’ (that there are geopolitical consequences of essentially economic phenomena) point to the subject matter of geo-economics.
Israeli government has reiterated that it is exploring a possibility of exporting gas to Turkey. Israel is considering the export and building a pipeline for transit of gas to Turkey, in spite of political differences with the country's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel has achieved energy self-sufficiency for decades to come and possesses significant resources for natural gas exports as the result of discoveries of already operating Tamar gas field and another larger Leviathan field in the eastern Mediterranean. Leviathan field gas is viewed by the government as the main Israeli source for gas exports.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed interest in supplying natural gas to Jordan, Greece, Egypt and Cyprus.  Israeli media quoted the head of government: "At the moment, [we are conducting] consultations on the issue of gas exports to Turkey and transit supplies through Turkey, which could change the relationship between our countries."
Israel and Turkey in the past were strategic partners, but moved away from each other against the backdrop of the reorientation of Turkish foreign policy from European integration on the strengthening of Turkey’s position in the Arab-Muslim world.  The mutual alienation reached its peak after the Mavi Marmara incident, when the Peace Flotilla sailing to break the blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip was  intercepted by Israeli commandos  in May of 2010 and resulted in the death of nine Turkish participants.
This pattern of an almost non-existent political dialogue at the senior levels accompanied by robust bilateral trade has characterized the Turkish-Israeli relationship since 2011. Short of unexpected dramatic changes, the relations between the two former allies will likely continue in this pattern for the foreseeable future. And yet, the latest statistics released this week by the Israeli government document an overall volume of $5.44 billion dollars in Turkish-Israeli trade during 2014. This marks an all-time high point in Turkish-Israeli economic relations, up 11.5 percent from 2013, including $2.75 billion in Israeli exports to Turkey (a 10 percent year-to-year increase) and $2.68 billion in Turkish imports to Israel (13 percent higher than 2013).
Earlier it was reported that the Turkish side is actively seeking to purchase Israeli gas and insist that Israel should expedite consideration of Ankara’s bid.  According to the Israeli First channel ITV on the evening of December 11, Benjamin Netanyahu sent his personal emissary to conduct talks with a representative of the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan shortly.
The meeting is devoted to negotiating the purchase of Israeli natural gas. Against the background of an acute crisis of Russian-Turkish relations, Ankara is actively looking for new energy suppliers. One of them should be Qatar, which already agreed to sell LNG to Turkey.
What is at stake here, is not only an economic transaction beneficial to both sides, but also a political component, namely a drastic improvement in political and diplomatic ties.  However, as reported by Israeli sources, Erdogan continued to insist on terms unrealistic from the standpoint of Israel. In particular, the Turkish president insists on the complete abolition of the regime of isolation of the Gaza Strip, which monitors the terrorist organization Hamas. If Erdogan will raise the political conditions for the signing of the trade deal, it will likely not take place.
But is not a time to reach a point in Turkish-Israeli relations, where ‘the flag follows trade.’
Alexander Murinson, Analyst, Strategic Outlook
15.12.2015 - Hit : 1713

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