By: Act for Palestine Foundation
In light of the latest deal between Lebanon and Israel regarding the disputed gas rights in the Karish field, which have been led by the United States for months, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip seek to present the issue of the gas fields off the coast of Gaza to international negotiations, similar to the model of the negotiations between Israel and Lebanon to get part of the gas rights that Israel is violating by force of occupation.
Gaza Siege: An ongoing Israeli crisis
As early as the Gaza blockade in 2007, the Israeli government established de facto control over Gaza’s offshore natural gas resources. British Gas, the contractor, has since been dealing with the Israeli government, effectively bypassing the Palestinian part regarding the rights of exploration and development of gas reserves.
On September 13, 2022, the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip organized a popular occasion in the Gaza port, rejecting the continuation of the Israeli siege and demanding the right to their natural resources in the gas fields and the waterway.
This was the first time since 2006 when Palestinian factions in Gaza organized an event to demand their right to gas fields, at a time when negotiations between Israel and Lebanon to demarcate the maritime borders between them have reached a final deal.
On April 14, 2019, the Israeli expert in the field of energy, Amit Mor, spoke to (The Tip of the Iceberg) program on the Al-Jazeera channel. He said that gas is an important financial source for the Palestinians, estimated at four billion and five hundred million dollars which is enough to develop aspects of life for about 15 years ahead. The Gaza Sea includes several natural gas fields, which were discovered in the early years following the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1993. The Marin field is considered the first discovery in the eastern Mediterranean since 1999. The license for that exploration and production was given to BG British Group.
In the early days of the discovery, the gas reserves were hailed as a breakthrough that could offer Palestinian people a windfall. At a time when the Oslo Accords still seemed applicable, the gas reserves were seen as something that could provide Palestinians with a much-needed boost toward self-determination.
The reserves of the Gaza Marin gas field are estimated at thirty-two billion cubic meters and the cost of its development is 1.2 billion dollars. It can meet the energy needs of the Palestinians for the coming 25 years, including providing electric power. For Palestinians, they import most of their needs of oil and gas derivatives through Israel, while the average monthly consumption of energy is estimated at ninety million liters, and the annual import bill is $1.5 billion.
Absence of Palestinian Sovereignty
The Israeli policies prevented Palestinians from exercising sovereignty on their lands and reinforced the blockade on the Gaza Strip by land and sea, making the matter confined to a small part of the sea where fishers were allowed to work.
Today, Israel knows that the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip observe what is going on the Lebanese front. Israel also recognizes that the extent of coordination between the resistance movement of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Palestinian factions in Palestine is much higher than it was ten years ago.
Finally, Palestinians’ right to access their natural resources is subject to negotiations and a final agreement with Israel. The economic development the Palestinian people wish for will not let them stop their calling for sovereignty and the right to self-determination.