Turkey's minister of energy and natural resources, Taner Yildiz, announced yesterday that there will be no new energy or water projects with Israel until relations between the two countries improve.
Yildiz told reporters in Istanbul that Turkey has no intention of starting the planning process for transporting water or natural gas to Israel after the Gaza flotilla incident at the beginning of the week. The two projects under evaluation will be halted, he said. Earlier this week, Turkey had already said it would reexamine its trade agreements with Israel.
"At a time when we are focused on the humanitarian aspects of what Israel did, we can't talk about commercial and economic matters," Yildiz told Turkish media. "We won't start any project with Israel until relations with them have been normalized."
Yildiz mentioned the Manavgat water project, which would transport up to 50 million cubic meters of water a year from Turkey to Israel in supertankers.
He also singled out a proposed extension of the Blue Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Israel as an example of a project being put on hold. Blue Stream 2 is a joint pipeline project with Russia across the Black Sea and through Turkey to supply Russian natural gas to Southeast Europe and the Mediterranean area. It might also include Israel, as well as Syria and Cyprus.
Manavgat and Blue Stream 2 are both state-sponsored projects, and have been under consideration for years. But they have not yet proceeded even to the most basic stages of an analysis of economic feasibility.
The suspension does not include deals between non-government companies, Yildiz said.
Turkey's Aksam newspaper said the possibility of canceling the Blue Stream 2 project with Israel is not being considered at this stage, but this could happen if the situation worsens.
Israeli diplomatic sources said that in any case Turkey has frozen the participation of Israeli companies in state tenders over the past year. Cooperation in the private sector is continuing, though the scope of such business is shrinking gradually.
Israel's National Infrastructure Ministry did not comment on the matter.
The war on the Web
Pro-Palestinian hackers have stepped up their attacks on Israeli Web sites after the Gaza flotilla incident. So far more than 1,000 Israeli sites have been broken into and vandalized, including official sites such as that of the Tel Aviv municipality.
Others include both commercial and governmental sites, such as those of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the Israel Dental Association and companies such as Steimatzky and Gillette Israel.
A number of sports teams' sites were also broken into including Maccabi and Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Besides the damage to the companies' and organizations' reputation and pride, the attacks will cost them plenty of time and money for repairing the security holes. Losses are also possible due to the time the sites were offline.
Renewed attempt at British academic boycott
Britain's University and College Union passed a motion yesterday that would allow for the reintroduction of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The motion, initiated by pro-Palestinian activists, includes not only a recommendation for a boycott but also sanctions and disinvestment from Israel.
At its annual congress in Manchester, the UCU passed the motion without debate by a show of hands in the wake of the raid on the Gaza flotilla.
In the past, the organization retreated from its boycott attempts due to legal issues, so as not to breach its own anti-discrimination policies and British anti-discrimination laws.
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