By Muhammad Ma’ruf – Nov 14, 2023
Entering its 38th day, the victims of the Palestinian genocide resulting from the Israel-USA attack on the Gaza Strip have increased to 11,180 people, including 4,609 children and 3,100 women. More than 28,000 other people were injured. The Tel Aviv regime blocked Gaza’s access to water, food and electricity, creating a major humanitarian crisis. At least 22 hospitals and 49 health centers have stopped operating due to lack of fuel needed to operate power generators.
However, behind this heartbreaking open ethnic genocide, Israel-Britain-USA colonial business went on as usual. Israel has granted 12 permits to six companies to explore for natural gas off the country’s Mediterranean coast on October 30. The business is Israel’s latest attempt to exploit one of several gas fields discovered on the Mediterranean coast over the past decades, aimed at addressing Israel’s energy dependency and, crucially, supplying the European region. In 1999, the BG Group or British multinational oil and gas company headquartered in Reading, England discovered a large gas field between 17 and 21 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza. Known as Gaza Marine 1 and 2.
The total oil and gas reserves were worth $524 billion in 2019. However, Israel as the occupier does not have sole legal rights to the $524 billion. According to a UN report published in the same year. Not only is part of the $524 billion sourced from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, most of the remainder is outside the country’s borders in the deep sea, and must therefore be shared among all relevant parties.
The 2019 UN report once questioned national rights to these natural resources, considering that their formation took millions of years – and more importantly that the Palestinians occupied the entire territory, while Israel was officially founded only in 1948.
The authors also note that the occupiers’ actions of denying citizens the right to use their own natural resources constitute other war crimes, including diverting Palestinian water supplies, cutting off access to their fisheries, confiscating agricultural land and destroying olive groves. The financial costs are enormous. “To date, real losses and losses due to the occupation that have occurred solely in the oil and natural gas sector have accumulated to tens, even hundreds of billions of dollars.”
Why do colonialists share with the colonized?
The deadly conspiracy of the US, UK, EU with Israel has been closely intertwined since the country was founded in 1948. In June 2022, under pressure to find other sources of gas since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU signed a Memorandum of Understanding with colonial Israel to import gas from the Leviathan gas field. The gas field is the largest recent discovery, holding 22 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas and could meet Israel’s domestic needs for 40 years.
Israeli Energy Minister, Karine Elharrar, once shared a video on her Twitter account about the signing of the trilateral agreement. “Today, Egypt and Israel jointly made a commitment to share our natural gas with Europe and help solve the energy crisis.”
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, welcomed the signing of the agreement. “I very much welcome the signing of this historic agreement between Israel, Egypt and the European Union.”
The US went further, creating a regional business and security cooperation package with and for Israel which was in US strategic interests. Strategic participation, sending two aircraft carriers and sending thousands of tons of ammunition to Israel in the 2023 Gaza ethnic cleansing operation. Eviction, expulsion and ethnic cleansing are the easiest ways to eliminate the economic rights of the Palestinian people in exploring gas in their own territory.
Natural gas is seen as a resource that “has a positive impact on regional security”, a policy propaganda to build trade bridges with neighboring Arab countries, Egypt, Jordan and the Union of Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Egypt started importing gas from the Leviathan field in 2020, and signed an MoU with Israel and the EU last year.
Indeed, the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) business has been used as a political tactic throughout the world to deepen interdependent political and economic relations. Not based on welfare economic morality but simply because oil reserves are running low. LNG is a beloved fossil fuel with 40% less carbon dioxide emissions than coal (low battery), and a global supply of 125 years in current reserves.
The United States, the world’s largest producer and exporter of LNG, estimates that the energy transition will use gas first before being environmentally friendly. As many as 20 new LNG terminals, transporting gas from the Permian Basin in the Southwest, are expected to be approved by the Biden administration this year. Because it is intended for export, analysts say the greenhouse gas emissions associated with it would be twenty times greater than those from drilling for oil at Willow, a much-protested new oil field in Alaska. Thus, the gas business is currency for gaining political support.
Palestinian gas in Gaza
Since 1999, BG Group (BGG) has discovered large gas fields between 17 and 21 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza. Under the Oslo II agreement, the Palestinian National Authority has maritime jurisdiction up to 20 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza. In November 1999, PNA signed a 25-year gas exploration contract with BGG.
Its reserves are estimated at 1 trillion cubic feet and will meet Palestinian needs and enable exports. Ehud Barak, Israel’s Prime Minister at the time, approved authorization for BGG to drill the first well in July 2000. The well produced gold gas. Palestine and Israel began negotiating and the deal was seen as benefiting both Israeli demand and Palestinian supplies.
However, a change in Israeli leadership soured the deal, with Ariel Sharon’s government allegedly pushing for the rejection of a supply deal between Palestinian gas fields and the state-owned Israel Electric Company. In May 2002, then British Prime Minister Tony Blair got involved and Sharon agreed to negotiate an annual supply agreement of 0.05 trillion cubic feet of Palestinian gas for a period of 10 to 15 years.
However, he changed his mind in 2003, stating that the funds could be used to support terrorism.
Ehud Olmert’s government, encouraged by the new PM, agreed to reopen negotiations with the BGG in April 2007. Starting in 2009, Israel will purchase 0.05 trillion cubic feet of Palestinian gas for $4 billion per year, thus creating a favorable atmosphere for peace , they think.
However, the 2007 Gaza fighting in which Hamas took control of the territory once again changed the agreement. Hamas wants to increase Palestine’s original 10% share in the BGG deal. An Israeli negotiating team was formed by the Israeli government to formulate an agreement with the BGG, without involving the Palestinian government and the PNA, thereby effectively canceling the contract signed in 1999 between the BGG and the PNA. However, in December 2007, BGG withdrew from negotiations with the Israeli government.
In June 2008, the Israeli government contacted BGG again to immediately renegotiate the deal. The UN report stated: “The decision to accelerate negotiations with the BGG coincided, chronologically, with the planning of the Israeli military operation in Gaza, when it became apparent that the Israeli Government wanted to reach an agreement with the BGG before the military operation was carried out. which is already in the advanced planning stages.”
Israel’s invasion of Gaza in December 2008 brought Palestinian gas fields under Israeli control—without regard to international law. BGG has had dealings with the Israeli government since then. The UN estimates billions of dollars in losses for the Palestinian people.
It seems that the situation with Palestine’s occupation status is more complex than the location of the gas fields, geopolitical and geological direction. For the EU, the demand for gas approved by its ally (Israel) is higher than before, this is what triggers the EU’s courage to fight for war crimes committed by Israel in 2023, but condemns war crimes committed by Russia. Meanwhile the US is taking a role, protecting and profiting from the Ukrainian war business, and the potential Israeli war business that is being fought.
However, the Houthis and the Yemeni national army stepped swiftly, successfully firing missiles at the city of Eilat, in the south of Israel. Gave code that disrupted Israel’s channel business. For Israel, the city of Eilat will be a link between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, a corridor for the Ben Gurion Canal project planned since 1963, which will replace the Suez Canal. Apparently the Houthis are giving us clues about the business direction of the colonial-Gaza war.
Muhammad Ma’ruf, Ph.D, a thinker and writer on Geo-Philosophy, Geopolitics, Geostrategy, Security and Defense issues. Director, Global Thinkers Institute (GTI). Lecturer in sociology, philosophy and religion, Paramadina University, Jakarta.
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