Israel will soon need to make a crucial decision on whether to export natural gas to several Middle East countries or to China, according to Yaakov Amidror, who until recently headed Israel's National Security Council.
Amidror, considered one of the closest people to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke Thursday at an event sponsored by Israel Defense magazine in conjunction with the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
"Soon we will begin exporting gas and we will need to think where we want to export it to," he said. "It is preferable for us to connect our neighbors through a network: the Palestinians, Jordanians, maybe the Egyptians, Cyprus and Turkey. If we build a gas network in the Middle East, we will not have enough gas to export to China. If we make another decision, we won't have enough gas to sell to Egypt."
According to Amidror, the energy field is in the process of global change, for three reasons: "One, [economic] growth in the world has transitioned primarily to China, and more energy is going through different places in the world on the way to China. Two, in the northern U.S., Brazil and Canada, there is enough energy to meet the energy needs of most Americans. The dependence of the U.S. on the Middle East is waning. This is an extremely important variable for us and our neighbors, and it will alter the relationship between America and the Middle East and the relationships within the Middle East. Three, in the Middle East, until a few years ago, we imported gas from Egypt. Now we have our own gas."
He said Israel had to diversify its own energy resources, rather than increase its dependence on the natural gas found off the coast in the Mediterranean Sea.
"Israel needs to be very careful to avoid becoming dependent on just one energy source. We must create a balance between several resources which come from within the Middle East and several resources that come from outside," he said.
However, judging by the newspaper headlines across the globe, the Iranian nuclear program remains the most influential variable in the region. House Armed Services Committee member Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said on Wednesday that the U.S. should use tactical nuclear devices rather than putting boots on the ground if the country was ever to attack Iran.
"I think a ground war in Iran with American boots on the ground would be a horrible thing and I think people like to toss around the fact that we have to stop them in some way from gaining this nuclear capability," Hunter told C-SPAN. "I don't think it's inevitable but I think if you have to hit Iran, you don't put boots on the ground, you do it with tactical nuclear devices and you set them back a decade or two or three. I think that's the way to do it, with a massive aerial bombardment campaign."
Hunter criticized the deal with Tehran, saying that now that it had been signed, the only thing left for U.S. President Barack Obama to do was "to pray that Iran acts differently than it has for the past 40 years."