Israel wants the European Union to decide by the end of next week whether it will invest in a pipeline project that would link its Mediterranean gas fields with Cyprus.

At a time of heightened political tension between Russia and Europe, Israel has promoted the pipeline project as a way for the European Union to reduce its reliance on Russian gas.

Israel's regional development minister Silvan Shalom has already spoken with energy ministers from the EU, Italy, Cyprus and Greece and a memorandum of understanding could be signed as early as next week.

Israel sees the potential deal as a way to improve ties the EU, which have been battered by the breakdown of peace talks with the Palestinian leadership.

"It's good for them, it's good for us," Shalom told Bloomberg earlier this month. "They will have a reliable source, we will have good relations with them. We can provide the gas, and the best way they can have it and I believe at the cheapest price."

A potential deal could bring around 10bn cubic metres of gas to Europe each year. The pipeline could be the longest in the world if built, stretching as far as 1,530km and reaching depths of 3,000m in parts.

Shalom has said the pipeline could cost as much as $6bn, although analysts have estimated the eventual cost could be much higher.

"If it's not going to be financed by the European Union, it's not going to work," Shalom said, as quoted by Bloomberg.