Dendias and Netanyahu met to discuss Turkey, East Med gas pipeline and bilateral economic cooperation; Dendias addresses Turkey’s “provocations”; TPAO requests permission for more seismic research.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in Jerusalem on Sunday. Their talks centered on the progress of the East Med gas pipeline and Turkey’s most recent “provocations” in the Mediterranean Sea. The meeting is part of the trilateral alliance between Israel with Greece and Cyprus that has been ongoing since 2017. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed: “The two discussed the strengthening of bilateral economic cooperation and advancing the East Med gas pipeline project between Israel and Europe.”

Dendias addressed Turkey and its illegal activity, mainly its increased drilling and hydrocarbon exploration in Cyprus and Greek waters, as Ankara continues its attempts to shift its power in the region. Turkey has been exploring south of the Greek Island of Kastellorizo, Dendias stating to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday, “It is always useful to take the opportunity to explain to our Israeli friends the problems Greece is facing with regard to Turkey’s provocations.” The European Union this year issued a warning to Turkey, threatening sanctions for its illegal activities. Recently, the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) requested permission from Turkey’s navy to conduct further seismic research.

Turkey also received the Russian S-400 missile defense system despite warnings and threats of sanctions from the Trump Administration. Following, the United States removed Turkey from the F-35 stealth jet program, referring to the S-400 as a “Russian intelligence-collection platform” that “undermines the commitments all NATO Allies made to each other to move away from Russian systems.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the system would be deployed and fully functional by April of 2020, making Turkey the first NATO state with the defense system.

The last tripartite meeting on the East Med pipeline between Greece, Cyprus, and Israel was held in March of this year. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended the meeting with Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Alexis Tsipras of Greece and President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus.

Towards the end of 2018, Israel finalized an agreement with Greece, Italy, and Cyprus to move forward with the construction of the East Med pipeline. The pipeline is set to be the world’s longest, over 2,000 kilometers. The deal is worth over $7 billion and has been under negotiations as part of the trilateral meetings between Israel, Greece, and Cyprus. A tripartite committee was formed with continued agreements and joint projects in tourism, education, search and rescue, the pipeline, and several others.

The pipeline is expected to be completed by 2024. The creation of the gas pipeline will not only benefit Israel’s economy and diplomatic and trade relations with European states but has also placed Israel as a significant player as the world’s largest natural gas exporter.