Egypt sends message to Turkey, U.S. with Israel visit

Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek el-Molla’s visit to Israel at the weekend was designed to send a  message to Turkey and its President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as well as to the United States, the Times of Israel said on Monday.

El-Molla’s meetings with Israeli officials including Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Sunday followed similar visits to Israel by Greek and Cypriot leaders in recent weeks.

In 2019, the Cypriot, Egyptian, Greek, Israeli, Italian, Jordanian and Palestinian energy ministers agreed to set up the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMFG), a joint platform to oversee the emerging regional gas market. The deal excluded Turkey, which has since caused a spike in regional tensions by exploring for hydrocarbons in disputed waters of the Mediterranean.

Turkey has also angered Egypt by continuing to support the Muslim Brotherhood since the July 2013 overthrow of the Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi as president of the country.

El-Molla has significant weight in Egyptian politics, enjoying very close relations with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the Times of Israel said.

His visit was also designed to influence the incoming administration of U.S. President Joe Biden amid the latter’s discomfort with Egypt’s human rights record, the newspaper said.