Turkey Makes Maritime EEZ to Israel as Extension of the Border Drawn With Sarraj for Libya – Al Marsad

Following reports recently that Turkey was reaching out to Israel, a leading Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, revealed that former Turkish Admiral Cihat Yayci, the architect of the Erdogan-Sarraj agreement, is proposing now a similar bilateral agreement between Turkey and Israel on their shared Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Eastern Mediterranean as a way to thwart Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. However, an Israeli official that “any proposal that comes at the expense of Cyprus is a non-starter.”

(Libya, 7 December 2020) – The former Turkish Admiral Cihat Yayci, through the agreement that was formulated between Erdogan and Sarraj to demarcate alleged maritime borders between Turkey and Libya, is now pressuring for a similar agreement between Turkey and Israel. Israel Hayom, an Israeli newspaper close to Prime Minister Netanyahu revealed key details of the proposed deal by Turkey’s Islamist government.

In his book, Requirements of Greece: The Problems in the Aegean with Questions and Answers, Yayci had argued that as the successor to the Ottoman Empire, Turkey should claim sovereignty over some islands and islets in the Aegean Sea. This angered Greek officials and made headlines in Turkey’s western neighbor.

According to the Israeli newspaper, “Turkey over the weekend signaled to Israel yet again its desire for rapprochement.” It claimed that former admiral Cihat Yayci, a close confidant of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was to publish on Monday “a first-of-its-kind proposal for an agreement on the countries’ shared exclusive economic zones in the Mediterranean Sea,” and which will be published today, Monday, in the Israeli academic journal Turkeyscope of Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University.

The report said this was the second signal on the part of the Turkish leadership for reconciliation with Israel and cooperation in the energy sector. It said that the first approach was made four months again but further bilateral progress was hindered by Coronavirus pandemic.

Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, who is close to Erdogan, has held several meetings with senior people in Israel’s defense establishment, among them the head of the Mossad. The Turkish is said to have expressed their desire to “readjust relations with Israel,” and that as a result Erdogan had ceased making aggressive statements against Israel.


According to Yayci’s map, which is already being implemented with Fayez al-Sarraj, the maritime borders between Turkey and Israel would come at the expense of Cyprus.For the Turkish side, the deal proposed to the Israelis is a mere extension of the maritime border already demarcated with Libya’s GNA.

The Erdogan-Sarraj MOU was signed on 27 November 2019 and was received with alarm by the Libyan public and the international community, and has been the key source of the “current tensions between Ankara and Athens.” The Turkish aim therefore is to isolate both Cyprus, Greece and Egypt.

The Israeli newspaper revealed that Yayci was focusing “on transferring blocs 8, 9, 11 and 12 from Cypriot to Israeli hands.” Furthermore, it added, “Bloc 12 is the location of the significantly sized Yishai-Aphrodite gas field, northwest of Israel’s Leviathan gas field, controlled by Israeli company Delek, industry giant Shell, and US-based Noble Energy.”
There is dispute between Israel and Cyprus over the  Yishai-Aphrodite, most of which is located within the economic waters of Cyprus and some of it in the economic waters of Israel. “Yayci is endeavoring to resolve both Ankara and Jerusalem’s problems in one fell swoop, through a bilateral agreement between Turkey and Israel that leaves Cyprus in the lurch,” said the report. The Israeli section of the gas field, Yishai, has an estimated value of 7-10 billion cubic meters, whilst the Cypriot side is estimated to contain 100 billion cubic meters—which is estimated at US$9 billion.

Yishai-Aphrodite gas field

Any Israeli consent to Yayci’s proposal, would spark immediate resistance from Greece and Cyprus and also “represent recognition of Turkey’s position on the exclusive economic zone off near the Greek islands of Rhodes and Kastellorizo.” Additionally, it would complicate relations with the UAE, the first Arab country to normalise relations with Israel, and who have signed a defense pact with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

A senior Israeli official told Israel Hayom that  any proposal that comes at the expense of Cyprus was a non-starter. “Cyprus is an ally of Israel and the maritime border between the countries is recognized by the United Nations and European Union,” the senior Israeli official explained.


Admiral Cihat Yayci is widely regarded as the architect of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on maritime borders between Turkey and Fayez al-Sarraj that was illegally signed on 27 November 2019.

In his book, Requirements of Greece: The Problems in the Aegean with Questions and Answers, Yayci argued that as the successor to the Ottoman Empire, Turkey should claim sovereignty over some islands and islets in the Aegean Sea. This angered Greek officials and made headlines in Turkey’s western neighbor.

In another controversial book, Libya is a Neighbour of Turkey, Yayci stated that Libya has a maritime border with Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea based on Turkey’s maritime jurisdiction areas which are defined according to a unilateral interpretation of Article No. 74 of the United Nations Law of the Sea that was signed in Jamaica in 1982. With this unilateral interpretation of the Law of the Sea, Turkey aims to control the Eastern Mediterranean gas basin, which according to the author, expects to reach US$3 trillion.

Erdogan Demotes Architect of Maritime MOU Between Turkey and Sarraj

In a statement in December, Erdogan had expressed gratitude to Yayci for his work on his country’s Libya policy, and for introducing the Turkish-Libyan maritime deal that was signed on 27 November 2019. The bilateral agreement was criticized by many as a fait accompli aimed at changing regional dynamics.

Libya leaders, in addition to the EU and the international community, all condemned the Erdogan-Sarraj maritime deal, declaring the boundary demarcation agreement to be in breach of international laws. As a response, Greece and Italy signed an agreement on maritime boundaries on 9 June this year, delimiting an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between the two neighbouring countries. In August, Greece signed a further agreement Egypt, designating an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean‮‮ ‬‬between the two countries.

At the signing of the agreement between Greece and Egypt, the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said: “The agreement with Egypt is within the framework of international law,” Dendias said, adding, “It is the absolute opposite of the illegal, void and legally unfounded memorandum of understanding that was signed between Turkey and Tripoli. Following the signing of this agreement, the non existent Turkish-Libyan memorandum has ended up where it belonged from the beginning: in the trash can.”

The Libyan Parliament had considered the Sarraj’s illegal maritime agreement with Erdogan as null and void.

© AlMarsad English (2020)