'Israel' says to start talks with Egypt, PA to develop Marine field
Netanyahu's office says "implementing the project is subject to coordination" between Egypt and the PA.
Practicing its policy of exploiting the resources of occupied Palestine for its own benefit, Israeli occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office confirmed on Sunday that "Israel" has approved the development of the Gaza Marine natural gas field off the coast of the Gaza Strip in coordination with Egyptian authorities and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
In a statement, Netanyahu's office indicated that "implementing the project is subject to coordination between the security services and direct dialogue with Egypt, in coordination with the PA, and the completion of inter-ministerial staff work led by the National Security Council."
Following the announcement, Reuters cited a Palestinian official as saying, "We are waiting to know what exactly the Israelis have agreed to in details. We can’t make a position based on a statement to the media."
On his part, Hamas official Ismail Rudwan told the news agency that the movement reaffirms "that our people in Gaza have the rights to their natural resources."
In February 2021, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the Gaza Marine gas field off the coast of the Gaza Strip.
According to Israeli media, the gas field, located about 30 kilometers (20 miles) off the coast of Gaza, is estimated to contain more than 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
It is expected that the government-owned Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) will be assigned to develop the field.
Last May, secret Israeli discussions were revealed about the development of the field, in accordance with the Israeli occupation's "security interests".
In 2022, the Palestinian Investment Fund reached a technical agreement with the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) to develop the Gaza Marine field.
The Fund owns a 27.5% share of the field and the Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) owns the same share, while the remaining 45% share will be for the operating company.
In February 2021, the Palestinian Investment Fund, CCC, and EGAS signed a cooperation agreement with the goal of developing the Gaza Marine gas field and the necessary infrastructure to supply gas enough to secure Palestine’s needs.
EGAS was supposed to begin the practical steps to develop the field, in preparation for the extraction of gas in commercial quantities, 30 months after the signing of the agreement.
It is noteworthy that the Palestinians own one of the first-ever fields discovered in the eastern Mediterranean region in the 1990s, but gas has not been extracted from it until today due to the Israeli occupation's continuous obstruction for more than 20 years, despite the 1993 "Oslo agreement", which gives Palestine the right to extract wealth from its lands.
The field was developed in 2000 by the British Gas Company, British Gas, before being handed over to the Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell, which dropped the project in 2018.
The Gaza Marine field's reserves are estimated to be 32 billion cubic meters of natural gas, with a production capacity of 1.5 billion cubic meters over a 20-year period.
Commenting on the matter, Moriah Fellberg Political Israeli Channel 13 correspondent considered that through this announcement, the Israeli occupation is following a carrot-and-stick approach with the US administration, after it announced earlier its decision to hasten the process of approving settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, in addition to giving Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, even more authority to approve new construction of settlement projects.
Similarly, Ohad Hamo, commentator of Arab affairs on Israeli Channel 12, said he believed the timing of the announcement is not a coincidence, as it came on the same day that "Israel hypothetically clashes with the Americans" on the issue of settlements.
Through its embassy in the Israeli occupation, the Biden administration had expressed its support for the development of the Gaza Marine natural gas field and mentioned that it is aware of the renewal of talks regarding the process following the start of the Ukraine war and the accompanying energy crisis, as per the Israeli news website I24.