Anyone who has lived in Israel over its first 70 years must be rubbing their eyes in disbelief. Tiny Israel, whose economy has historically been dependent on Europe, recently feared a European boycott against it and had almost zero natural resources, is now the one “coming to Europe’s aid in a time of need, and will supply natural gas to Europe during the coming winter.” Those words still don’t seem real.
Not to be misunderstood: The balance of power in this relationship has not been reversed. Israel, for now, will only supply a small portion of Europe’s energy needs. Moreover, the Europeans have chosen to buy Israeli gas because they aren’t suckers, as Putin assumed—and not just him. In other words, the Europeans aren’t in our pockets.
And yet, once our tiny country joins the ranks of Europe’s energy suppliers—and the European Union has recognized our value in terms of security, science and technology— power relations will have fundamentally changed. From the winter of 2022, Israeli stock will be far more valuable. And this is after its value had already risen due to upheaval in Arab countries and the COVID pandemic.
Deserving of all praise on this front are Energy Minister Karine Elharrar and her predecessor, Yuval Steinitz. Elharrar erred when she decided not to issue new drilling permits for 2022, but responded quickly and correctly to the Egyptian-European request for Israeli gas.
Steinitz, meanwhile, fought hard, along with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to extract the gas from the ocean floor. Without them, none of it would have happened. Thanks to them, Israel enjoys low prices, has been spared an economic crisis and is also improving its regional and international standing in the midst of a global energy crisis. We can only pray for more wise and visionary initiatives of this sort.
Ariel Kahana is Israel Hayom’s senior diplomatic correspondent.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.