The European Union and Israel are planning an energy partnership as Western countries seek to reduce their dependency on Russian gas due to Moscow’s war on Ukraine.
“We want to promote our energy cooperation with Israel,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
Cooperating with other, trustworthy suppliers should be expanded as Russia seeks to blackmail countries, she said.
The EU is trying to become independent of Russian gas supplies, whether in liquid form or via pipelines, as quickly as possible as Russia continues to bombard its neighbour.
The European Commission announced plans for an energy agreement with Israel and Egypt on liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies for Europe in mid-May, with hopes it could be concluded before the summer.
There are large natural gas deposits off the coast of Israel. Under an agreement, gas would be brought from Israel to Egypt through a pipeline. In Egypt, it would be converted into liquefied gas and then transported to the EU.
A joint declaration of intent is to be signed by Israel, the EU and Egypt on Wednesday, von der Leyen said. Signing the agreement is a “very important step,” she said.
She also mentioned plans to construction an electricity link between Israel, Cyprus and Greece in the eastern Mediterranean.
A further project for a gas pipeline in the eastern Mediterranean is also in the works, although it was briefly almost abandoned. The 1,900-kilometre EastMed pipeline would transport gas from Israel via Cyprus to Greece and so the European Union, and from there to Central Europe.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi also visited Israel on Tuesday, seeking to reduce Italy’s dependence on Russian energy. After their talks, Bennett said energy cooperation aims to ensure that gas from Israel could also serve Europe.