Cablegate: Turkey-Israel: North-South Energy and Water Links

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.






E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: ANKARA 5298 and previous

Sensitive But Unclassified. Please Handle Accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: Turkey and Israel announced ambitious
plans for energy and water links, building on earlier
announcements from both countries with Russia. This North-
South energy corridor is intended to complement, not compete
with, the East-West Energy Corridor. For Turkey, it is
important that these linkages include northern Cyprus. The
ideas are long-term and futuristic but could make a
contribution Turkey's economic integration with the Middle
East, as well as to reducing the isolation of northern
Cyprus. End Summary.

Energy and Water Pipe-(Dreams)

2. (SBU) In an October 14 meeting with econoff, the
Israeli DCM confirmed a flurry of recent press about
proposed "North-South" energy and water links arising from
the recent visit of GOI Minister of Infrastructure Benjamin
Ben-Eliezer to Turkey and the meeting of the Turko-Israel
energy working group, and building from earlier high-level
meetings in Jerusalem and Moscow. He confirmed that there
was an agreement between Israel and Turkey to pursue the
following initiatives (in order of likely probability and/or
timing of realization):

-ELECTRICITY links between Turkey and Israel (and northern
Cyprus, Jordan, and Palestine). The countries would study
the possibility of transmission inter-connectibility,
subject to EU UCTE technical restrictions and economic
feasibility. As a first concrete step of energy
cooperation, Turkey's Zorlu Energy Group and Israel's Solbar
Industries announced plans to jointly build a gas-fired $360
million power station in southern Israel.

-OIL links between and through Turkey and Israel (to carry
oil to India and China). This is envisioned as an extension
of Turkey's long-sought Samsun-Ceyhan Bosphorus oil bypass
from the Black Sea (reftel). Ceyhan would be linked by
tankers or pipeline to Israel, and then -- via the Ashekelon-
Elat pipeline -- to the Red Sea (bypassing the Suez canal)
to carry oil to Asia.

-WATER links between Turkey, Northern Cyprus, and Israel.
Turkey recently announced that Turkey would build a 78 km
water pipeline to the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus"
("TRNC"), citing the Turkish Alarko group as champion.
According to the Turks, the water pipeline is intended to
ultimately serve regional, rather than only bilateral needs,
facilitating linkages and efforts for settlement in Cyprus,
and reduce the cost of an eventual pipeline to carry water
from Turkey to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. The Israel
DCM admitted that there were economic challenges to making
the project workable, given the probably lower cost of
desalination. He also referenced the defunct white elephant
water project in Manavgat in southern Turkey, which was
based on original plans to collect water for Israel (he
noted that, particularly given high oil prices, it was not
economic to export water by tanker).

-NATURAL GAS links with Israel address Turkey's long-
standing desire to re-export Russian gas, potentially from a
burgeoning energy hub at Ceyhan, but are dependent on
Russian support for re-export and a Samsun-Ceyhan natural
gas link to the "Blue Stream" link. The Israeli official
admitted that Israel did not have an acute need for gas,
having signed a contract with Egypt, but Israel was
interested in long-term diversification and was receptive to
Turkey's strong support for this element of the North-South
corridor. He emphasized that Turkey had struck expensive,
non-transparent deals with Russia, and Israel would not
subsidize these bad deals.

Comment - Pipelines for Peace and Prosperity

3. (SBU) Believing that Turkey's vision of North-South
linkages must include northern Cyprus, the DCM thought U.S.
assent would be necessary for such projects to move forward.
Israel is game to support Turkey's commitment to Bosphorus
bypass and links to "TRNC," in exchange for Turkish support
for connections with Israel and its quest for
diversification and Suez bypass alternatives. While aspects
of the plans are futuristic and optimistic, there is an
attractive element in linkages contributing to peace
(although pipelines follow - and reinforce - peace, not vice
versa). The broad and ambitious Turkey-Israel bilateral
energy and water cooperation follows and builds on
comparably ambitious Turkish-Russian MOU/wishlist,
propounded at four Erdogan-Putin meetings over the past

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