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Israel-Greece-Cyprus take on Turkey in the Mediterranean

Trilateral cooperation among Israel, Greece and Cyprus to build a natural gas subsea pipeline is setting the stage for more tensions with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Israel Defense Forces published its annual intelligence assessment Jan. 15 and for the first time reportedly included the aggressive regional policies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a top danger to watch, but it does not foresee a direct confrontation with Turkey in 2020. Rather, a closer look at the currently chilly relations between Israel and Turkey reveals potential escalation manifested not only in the political realm involving the Palestinians or battling terror, but also in the energy sector.

On Jan. 2, Israel, Greece and Cyprus signed an agreement to build a subsea pipeline to carry natural gas from Eastern Mediterranean gas fields to Europe. The EastMed project will transport natural gas from Israeli and Cypriot offshore gas fields to Italy and then on to the rest of Europe, providing the continent with a steady supply of non-Russian gas. Alongside this diplomatic success, however, the project has also further escalated the crisis between the three signatories and Turkey in the arena of natural gas and in general.

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