Since the Russia-Ukraine war struck Europe, the world has had to bear the heavy toll and consequences of the conflict both politically and economically. Palestine, particularly, has had its share of the geopolitical dynamics that further shredded its resources and fragmented its people as never before.
Effective for one year now since June 15, 2022, the European Union, Israel, and Egypt signed a tripartite natural gas deal to ditch Russian energy supplies. The agreement, valid for a three-year term and renewable for an additional two years, is believed to save Europe economically from the repercussions of the decline of the Russian gas export flow. However, it will only compensate it with only 10% of the total Russian gas supplies amounting to 144 billion cubic meters of liquefied gas annually.
Transporting gas from the occupied Palestinian territories under illegal Israeli supervision through a previously existing pipeline to Egypt, the extracted gas has been channelling through two gas stations: ‘Idku’ in Beheira Governorate north of Egypt operating with a capacity of 10 billion cubic meters and includes two liquefaction units, and the ‘Damietta’ in the eastern Mediterranean – both of which, historically, belonged to the Palestinian people.
With European visions for regional headquarters for energy trading in Egypt, the Egyptian treasury will earn one billion euros annually to liquefy gas from the Idku and Damietta stations to Europe, three billion euros for agricultural and irrigation programs, and 100 million euros to tackle the food and price crises provisioned by President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, who said “they have a strong commitment to partnership with Egypt,” and that “Egypt will be at the forefront of technological transformation in the region.”
Later, Egyptian gas exports will revive ports, increase investment in constructing liquefaction stations in the country, and provide a viable opportunity to operate them at full capacity.
The agreement – an extension of an earlier tripartite deal on February 18, 2018, between the Israeli Delek Group and the Egyptian Dolphinus Company, with a value of fifteen billion US dollars to export seven million cubic meters of natural gas annually to Europe for fifteen years – provides Cairo with an opportunity to have some Western aid and economic benefits yet fraught with political uncertainty.
In fact, these results won’t be as strategic for Egypt as they are to Israel; the deal translates to another peace agreement for Tel Aviv with a neighbouring country.
However, Cairo’s doubts about reaping sustainable gains from the agreement should still amount. For four years since the 2018 deal, Egypt hasn’t achieved any of its aims and hopes of becoming a factor player in the region’s energy market, despite its discovery of many gas fields after and before that date, including the Zohr field in 2015, which is the largest gas field in the Mediterranean so far.
Until now, the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum’s establishment in January 2019 hasn’t paid off for Egypt, which was looking to establish a regional gas market and secure supply and demand among member states: Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Italy, and France, who excluded Cairo from the East-Med pipeline agreement to supply Europe with gas, which was agreed to operate on January 30, 2020.
Israel, on the other side, scores both a political and diplomatic, and economic win as it is becoming a regional and global trader in the energy market, solidifying the historical transformation that has taken place in its regional and international role.
Undoubtedly it’s an intelligent Israeli investment in the outcomes of the war in Europe. Israel, at the expense of Egypt’s historical position by the side of Palestine, supported by the United States, and with the EU support for the Palestinian Authority in exchange for silence towards the appropriation of Palestinian gas, once more, marginalizes the Palestinians from every regional equation, though it’s home of the gas being discussed and sold and despite the Palestinian membership in the Mediterranean Gas Forum.
Until today, neither should the Palestinian people nor their leadership be satisfied with the fictitious political or unsustainable economic returns and conditional support that is dependent on international and Israeli dynamics.
The Palestinian leadership can invest in the stubborn popular position and must be heard without indecisiveness or stutter to obtain the rights of their land and people. Only then can the Palestinians have sustainable and stable sovereign economic resources of benefit and interest.