Israel, Palestinians in talks to develop offshore Gaza gas field

The Marine gas field, which was discovered by British Gas in 2000, has remained undeveloped due to security and diplomatic concerns.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Egypt are deep in negotiations regarding the development of an offshore gas field located near the Gaza Strip, with the EU and American government brokering the talks, according to a new report from Israeli newspaper Globes.

The Marine gas field, which was discovered by British Gas in 2000, has remained undeveloped due to security and diplomatic concerns.

The Second Intifada was raging at the time of the discovery and British Gas, which was later purchased by Shell, sold the rights to the field to a partially PA-owned investment fund.

Since then, the field, which is believed to contain some 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas, has not been explored.

But as EU sanctions on Russia have resulted in a major energy and cost-of-living crisis in Europe, developing Marine has seen renewed interest.

While the deal has potential to provide much-needed economic relief to Gaza, American and Israeli opposition to the inclusion of the Hamas terror group may threaten to derail the entire deal, according to the Globes report.

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Yet some remained optimistic that the gas field could serve as a bargaining chip to prevent Hamas from launching rockets and other terror attacks aimed at Israel.

“The development of Marine, similar to the agreement with Lebanon, creates a new equation in which Hamas will have much more to lose if it renews the fire,” a senior Israeli official told Globes.

They added that in the past, Israel has revoked work permits for Gazans after clashing with the terror group, creating economic pressure on Hamas to curb the violence.

“A Palestinian gas field will increase the leverage of pressure on Hamas many times over,” the source added.

Notably, it’s unclear if the Marine gas field is in Israeli territorial waters. For development to proceed, Israel would need to formally relinquish rights to Marine – which could lead to a potential legal and diplomatic dispute.