European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi met Israeli officials on Tuesday, seeking to forge stronger energy ties with the Middle Eastern country and reduce their reliance on Russian fossil fuels.
The European Union continues to explore two “major” energy projects with Israel, EC President Ursula von der Leyen said. The first is a power line connecting Israel to Cyprus and Greece. One is for natural gas or hydrogen, and the other is for power cables.
“The Kremlin’s behavior only strengthens our resolve to break free of our dependence on Russian fossil fuels,” Von der Leyen said in a speech in southern Israel. “We are now exploring ways to step up our energy cooperation with Israel.”
After a meeting, Draghi agreed with these sentiments.
“We want to reduce our dependency on Russia’s gas and accelerate energy transition to the climate goals we have set,” Draghi said.
The EU has reached out to multiple gas producers following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a bid to secure alternative supplies. Since the EU imported about 40% of its gas from Russia last year, it may need to tap numerous sources of the fuel—as well as raise renewables output—to meet demand.
Recent months have seen the EU engage Israel about sending gas via Egypt to Europe. Egypt has several liquefied natural-gas export terminals.
Karine Elharrar, Israeli Energy Minister, recently announced that new exploration of gas in the eastern Mediterranean was being halted and that licensing will be conducted later this year.
“Europe needs energy and Israel has natural gas in our economic waters,” Bennett said, alongside Draghi. “This is good news for Israel, Italy and Europe.”
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