Energy Minister Berat Albayrak is set to visit Israel by the end of this year to conclude an agreement for the building of a natural gas pipeline to Turkey, the Israeli energy minister said Wednesday.
Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said both countries decided to accelerate efforts to conclude by the end of this year an intergovernmental agreement that will enable the construction of a pipeline from Israel to Turkey.
“Hopefully, Mr. Albayrak will pay a visit to Israel this year in 2017, which will help us accelerate and try to conclude this agreement,” the minister said at the 22nd World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul after meeting Albayrak.
He added that no exact date had been fixed but it would take place in the coming months..
Israel is searching for energy partners to develop its Leviathan natural gas field in a bid to make it economically feasible.
“We want to build a pipeline stretching from Israel to Turkey in order to able to export natural gas from Israel to Turkey,” Steinitz said, adding that the Israeli gas could be delivered to Europe and to the Balkans through Turkey.
Relations between Turkey and Israel came to a halt in 2010 following an Israeli naval raid on Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara, en route to deliver humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip. The raid killed 10 people.
The Israeli government took a step toward reconciliation on March 24, 2013, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under the encouragement of U.S. President Barack Obama, apologized for the mishandling of the raid during a conference call with then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Israel also agreed to pay compensation to the families of the victims.
After nearly six-and-a-half-years, a reconciliation deal was reached between Turkey and Israel and ratified in Parliament on Aug. 20 last year before being signed into law by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Aug. 31.