An attack on the rig drilling for gas off shore from Cyprus for an Israeli-American consortium would be considered an attack on the United States, says Richard Stone, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month threatened to attack the Nobel Energy rig if it began operations, but he has not carried out his threat although drilling began last week.
Stone said Turkey would not dare attack the rig because Nobel is an American company but added that Erdogan is “unpredictable.”
Nobel also has a large stake in the mammoth Israeli discoveries of natural gas, and possibly oil, off Israel’s Mediterranean Coast.
The Turkish Hurriyet newspaper reported that Erdogan has turned to the United Nations to temporarily suspend drilling until a compromise can be worked out over his claim of sovereignty. Significant gas discoveries off the Cyprus coast would threaten Turkey’s natural gas export advantage.
Stone, in an interview with the Kathimerini newspaper, said that Erdogan is following a policy of disengaging from the West for the sake of better ties with the Near and Far East.
Erdogan recently has distanced himself from Syria, after embracing the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and even has called on him to step down.
Stone charged that Erdogan has exploited last year’s flotilla clash to aggravate Israel by preparing a list of 174 people, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and senior IDF officers, for being involved in the raid on the Mavi Marmara. The raid resulted in the deaths of nine terror activists aboard the ship, which had tried to break Israel’s maritime blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza.
A United Nations report has termed the blockade legal.