Israel's Yuval Steinitz was one of seven energy ministers to launch Sept. 22 the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum via videoconference at an event organized by Cairo, the forum's headquarters. The ministers also included Steinitz's Greek, Cypriot, Jordanian, Palestinian and Italian counterparts. The ambassadors of three other countries interested in joining the forum — France as a member state and the United States and the European Union — also participated.
The forum was established by Steinitz and Egyptian Energy Minister Tarek el-Molla as a smaller, informal grouping after Israel and Egypt discovered offshore natural gas fields. The idea was to facilitate talks among Mediterranean countries about exporting natural gas, cooperating on various energy issues and advancing the construction of an undersea pipeline that would transfer the gas to the south of Europe.