Steven Scheer
Netanyahu Says Iraq-Israel Oil Line No Pipe-Dream
Sat Jun 21 05:11:30 2003

Netanyahu Says Iraq-Israel Oil Line No Pipe-Dream
Fri Jun 20,11:11 AM ET

By Steven Scheer

LONDON (Reuters) - Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (news - web sites) said he expected an oil pipeline from Iraq (news - web sites) to Israel to be reopened in the near future after being closed when Israel became a state in 1948.

"It won't be long when you will see Iraqi oil flowing to Haifa," the port city in northern Israel, Netanyahu told a group of British investors, declining to give a timetable.

"It is just a matter of time until the pipeline is reconstituted and Iraqi oil will flow to the Mediterranean."

Netanyahu later told Reuters the government was in the early stages of looking into the possibility of reopening the pipeline, which during the British Mandate sent oil from Mosul to Haifa via Jordan.

"It's not a pipe-dream," Netanyahu said.

In April, a source at the National Infrastructure Ministry told Reuters Israel and Jordan would hold talks on reopening the pipeline, which Israel believes would lower fuel costs by 25 percent.

The source said that the Israeli section of the pipeline was in good condition but did not know about the Jordanian section.

Jordanian officials denied they would meet Israeli officials, citing cold relations with the Jewish state since the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising in late 2000.

The United States, Israel's closest ally, toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) during an invasion that began in March. A U.S.-led coalition now runs Iraq and many Arabs voice concern over the control Washington can exercise over Iraq's oil wealth.

Iraq owns the world's second largest oil reserves.


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