The maritime accord between Turkey and Libya is unlikely to lead to a conflict with Ankara, even though Tel Aviv opposes it, the Israeli foreign minister said Monday.
“We have no desire, and Turkey has no desire for a confrontation with Israel,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Israeli TV Channel 13.
Tel Aviv had not previously commented about the deal, but the Greek Cypriot administration said Benjamin Netanyahu considered it “illegal.”
Katz said this was the official stance of the country regarding the matter and added, “But that doesn’t mean we are sending battleships to confront Turkey.”
On Nov. 27, Turkey and Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) signed a bilateral memorandum after a meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj in Istanbul. The deal enables Turkey to secure its rights in the Mediterranean while preventing any fait accompli maneuvers by other regional states.
The memorandum asserts Turkey’s rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling attempts by the Greek Cypriot administration, clarifying that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to resources in the area.
Fellow regional actor, Greece, did not welcome the deal and even regarded it as a violation of its own rights, though international law deems otherwise. Athens later said it would expel its Libyan envoy Mohamed Younis AB Menfi from the country in response.
Libya has remained dogged by turmoil since 2011 when a NATO-backed uprising led to the ousting from office and death of former president Moammar Gadhafi after more than four decades in power.
Since then, Libya’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power, one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli, as well as in-fighting by a host of heavily-armed militia groups.
The military, pushed by Khalifa Haftar’s army, has allied with a parallel eastern administration based in Benghazi, marking a dangerous escalation in a power struggle that has dragged on since the vacuum following Gadhafi’s death emerged. Haftar is not recognized by the international community, as the elected parliament of the country is centered in Tripoli.