The crisis in Ukraine has illustrated just how important the diversification of Europe’s gas sources has become, and the urgency of finding alternatives to Russian gas, if only to reduce Moscow’s leverage over Europe and the NATO alliance.
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell was able to voice a united policy for Europe in January 2022, based on his view that “we must reduce our dependency on Russian energy.”
Coming up with a solution to the Russian gas question for Europe also has an Israeli angle.
The new Israeli government, headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, modified Israeli energy policy; Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar appeared to be adopting some of the preferences of the U.S. renewable-energy industry. Indeed, she halted the granting of licenses for natural-gas exploration for one year while her ministry devoted its efforts to work on renewable energy.
Despite the Biden administration’s postponement, for reasons that are not entirely clear, of Israel’s gas pipeline to Europe, Israeli gas is still used for its Middle Eastern partners, particularly Egypt and Jordan.
For the last decade, Iran has been seeking to export its gas to Iraq and even Jordan, thereby extending its influence to Israel’s east.
With the anticipated improvement of Israeli ties to Turkey, Ankara could emerge as an export hub for Israeli gas.
Thus, in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine, there are multiple reasons why the work on the EastMed pipeline must be resumed as soon as possible, along with gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean. Moreover, increasing the supply of gas to the West will also help drive down its price, thereby undermining Russia’s ability to fund its war machine in the future.
Dore Gold is the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and the current president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.