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January 29, 2016 5:25 pm

Expert: Israel-Greek-Cyprus Group Puts Pressure on Turkey to Reach Breakthrough With Jerusalem

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Cyprus, satellite image.

Cyprus, satellite image.

The trilateral meeting between leaders from Israel, Greece and the Republic of Cyprus put pressure on Turkey to reach a diplomatic breakthrough with Israel, Gallia Lindenstrauss, a researcher with the Institute for National Security Studies, told The Algemeiner on Friday.

“In the short term, however, I think that the scheduled tri-party meeting in Cyprus was an impetus for the Turkish side to try and reach a breakthrough with Israel,” before Israel concludes its agreements with Cyprus and Greece, said Lindenstrauss, whose focus is on the eastern Mediterranean region.

Relations between Jerusalem and Ankara broke down after the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident. Recent reports suggested the two countries were close to rapprochement.

Lindenstrauss said that while improvement in relations between Israel, Greece and the Republic of Cyprus are commonly seen as the “flip side of the deterioration of Turkish-Israeli relations” — a zero-sum situation, she said — the future of the region rests heavily on finishing up peace talks in Cyprus.

“A solution in Cyprus could be a game changer and make the prospect of Israeli export of natural gas to Turkey and even to Europe much more feasible,” said Lindenstrauss.

“The pipeline through Cyprus to Greece is much more expensive to build than the one to Turkey, so maybe it is anyhow not feasible [to build the pipeline through Cyprus and Greece] regardless of if there is progress” between Israel and Turkey, she added.

She noted that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s statements earlier this week in Greece regarding Turkish purchases of oil from the Islamic State were “not constructive in this stage of [Israeli-Turkish] negotiations, since this was in Turkish eyes basically a repetition of the Russian harsh rhetoric against Turkey following the downing of a Russian jet” back in November.

But regardless of how the trilateral agreements affect relations with Turkey, she said, they could also prove beneficial for their own sake — such as if plans for connecting Israel to the European power grid through Cyprus and Greece end up going through.

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