“War for gas” or something else?

Photo of author

By vexwift.com

There are large reserves of natural gas in the sea near the Gaza Strip. In 1999, the Palestinian Authority granted British Gas Group a license to explore gas in the sea. In 2000,two gas field have been discovered. According to estimates, gas reserves in these fields can be up to 1 trillion cubic feet. From these fields, more gas than Palestine needs can be extracted and exported.

There are large reserves of gas and oil in the areas around Gaza which are part of Palestine according to the United Nations resolutions. However, in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Israel occupied those areas and now extracting gas at large-scale from there.

In 2019, the UN Conference for Trade and Development published a paper. In the paper, it was stated that there are gas and oil reserves in the land and water of Palestine and that the gas that has been discovered in the Eastern Mediterranean is also the right of Palestine.
The UN conference pointed to the Leviathan gas field. According to an estimate, the Leviathan gas field contains 22 trillion cubic feet of gas.

In 1999, when the British Gas Group began to search for natural gas in the sea near Gaza, Israeli officials demanded from the Palestinian Authority that the gas extracted would go through pipes directly to the plants in Israel and from there to the Palestinians,at below than market rate.

In addition, the money obtained from the gas will remain in Israel’s possession and they will spend it in Palestine themselves.The reason for this demand was the fear of Israel,that the revenue of gas will be used in terror funding.

A strange situation arose here. The Palestinian Authority wanted to extract the gas and deliver it to Egypt and then supply to the Palestinians from there. Moreover, they did not want to give the money obtained from the gas to Israel. Both conditions were not acceptable for Israel.

To resolve matters, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair brokered an agreement between Israel and Palestine, whereby the gas would go to Israeli facilities instead of Egypt and the revenue would be deposited in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Later the money would be used carefully by the Palestinian Authority.

The compromise was accepted by both sides. But in the meantime the world surprised by the entry of Hamas and things got worse again. In the 2006 elections, Hamas won in Gaza and defeated the Palestinian Authority by a large margin to take control of Gaza. Hamas was known as an extremist and hardline religious organization in Israel. As a result, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused to give gas royalties to the Palestinians and said that they will give the same amount of goods to Palestine.

In response, the Palestinians rejected Israel’s control over the gas and its revenues and signed a gas extraction deal with the Russian company Gazprom, and in 2015 negotiated with BT Group to end the old deals.

It is important to note here that all the waters near Gaza are occupied by Israel and no movement is possible without its consent. In such a situation, the gas fields of Gaza are still lying as they are.

Rumors of “war on gas”

Israel launched a war and invaded Gaza in response to Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7. Rumors spread in many quarters that Gaza had gas reserves and that Israel was occupying Gaza to gain control over it.

Israel itself is a country with large gas reserves.

Israel has 823 billion cubic meters of gas reserves in just two fields. They are extracting 22 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

As noted earlier, Israel publicly holds vast gas reserves in the occupied Palestinian territories. Among them is the Leviathan gas field in the eastern Mediterranean, which has an estimated 22 trillion cubic feet of usable gas in 2017.As we noted, according to the UN conference paper this reserve belong to Palestine. But no one can stop Israel from extracting gas out of here.

So in such a situation, how can Israel bear the loss of billions of dollars while putting the lives of its people at risk by fighting for only one trillion cubic feet of gas.

In the end, the result of all this discussion is that the reason for the war is not the acquisition of gas…..but something else.

4 thoughts on ““War for gas” or something else?”

Leave a comment