Turkey dreams of far-fetched gas pipeline with Israel
Turkey is ready for energy cooperation with Israel after years of enmity, reviving a project to pipe Israeli gas to Europe as Ankara seeks to reduce its dependence on Russia.
But the plan faces Israeli scepticism over past diplomatic tensions and seems a pipe dream in the eyes of experts due to its logistical complexity and cost.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has voiced readiness to "cooperate (with Israel) in energy and energy security projects" with the prospect of shipping Israeli gas to Europe through Turkey as the conflict in Ukraine triggers supply fears.
"Turkey has the experience and capacity to implement such projects. The recent developments in our region has shown once again the importance of energy security," he said in March.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog made a landmark visit to Ankara in March to build relations with his Turkish counterpart when both leaders proclaimed a new era following more than a decade of diplomatic rupture.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will visit Israel on Wednesday. Energy Minister Fatih Donmez is also expected to travel but it was not immediately clear if he will accompany Cavusoglu.
But according to some experts, there is little Israeli interest in energy cooperation with Turkey.
"Energy relations are forged by cooperative, trusting states -- certainly not how one would describe the current dynamics between the two countries," Gabi Mitchell, policy fellow at the Mitvim Institute in Israel, told AFP.
"There are those in Israel who argue that Erdogan is an untrustworthy party," he said. The Turkish leader is known for his angry outbursts at the Jewish state, especially over its policy towards the Palestinians.
In 2009, he stormed out of a Davos panel after a heated exchange with the then Israeli president, Shimon Peres.
NATO member Turkey had been Israel's key ally in the Muslim world until a 2010 crisis where 10 civilians died in an Israeli raid on a ship seeking to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip.
In 2016, the two countries agreed to start examining the feasibility of an undersea pipeline to pump Israeli gas to Turkish consumers and on to Europe.
But no progress has been made amid the tension between the two sides, with Erdogan seeing himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and a strong backer of Hamas.
Yet Erdogan has been muted in his criticism in recent months and only voiced sadness over the Israeli-Palestinian violence at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, in a phone call with Herzog in April. The pipeline project runs through controversial waters in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey and EU members Cyprus and Greece are often at odds.
Mitchell said: "This isn't something Israel is interested in pursuing as it would damage relations" with Cyprus, Greece and the European Union.
"I've never thought the project feasible," the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Middle East Programme director Aaron Stein told AFP.