ECONOMY

Turkish-Israeli power deal

ANKARA (AP) – Israel’s Dorad Energies Ltd. and Turkey’s Zorlu Holding yesterday signed a $800 million deal for the construction of three natural gas power stations in Israel, a symbol of the close ties between the countries that is increasingly under fire. As the deal was signed, Parliament began discussing Israel’s week-long offensive in the Gaza Strip and at least one lawmaker called on Turkey to review its close ties with Israel. Many Turks sympathize with fellow-Muslim Palestinians, despite secular Turkey’s close ties with Israel. Israel’s Gaza offensive, which has left dozens dead, has drawn widespread condemnation in Turkey. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul called on Israel to seek peace in his speech before Parliament yesterday, and warned that excessive force would further encourage terrorist groups. The offensive «won’t lead to Israel’s security,» Gul said. It «will create new excuses for terrorist groups.» «We call on Israel not to close down the road for dialogue,» he said. Lawmaker Huseyin Tanriverdi, who recently returned from a trip to the Palestinian territories together with six other legislators, accused Israel of «trampling on humanity» and called on Turkey to review ties. «Turkey can do a lot,» Tanriverdi said. «By reviewing its diplomatic ties… it can bring about pressure» on Israel. Israeli Minister of Infrastructure Joseph Paritzki and Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler oversaw the signing of the energy deal. Zorlu is to construct a 770-megawatt plant in the Ashkelon region in southern Israel, a 24- megawatt station in the Migdal Ha’Emek industrial region in northern Israel and a 12-megawatt station in southern Israel, some 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the city of Eilat, Paritzki said. The smaller stations would be operational in 15 months’ time, while the larger one would be ready in 2007. Zorlu is one of Turkey’s leading business conglomerates with interests in construction, textiles and banking. Paritzki said he welcomed «the continuing relationship between Turkey and my country… in the energy and in the infrastructure field. I hope this cooperation will include, in the future, additional projects.» Turkey and Israel recently signed a deal to sell water to Israel and Paritzki said the sides still had to resolve the issue of transporting the water from Turkey’s Manavgat river to Israel.