According to British Gas Group (BG), in 2000 an estimated 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas was discovered off the coast of Gaza, stretching North-West of the Strip. By any way one measures it, these reserves legally belong to Palestine as they are directly located off the shore of the Gaza Strip, an illegally occupied territory by Israeli forces. A 25-year exploration-rights agreement ensued with BG and the Consolidated Contracted International Company (CCC) as partners of the Palestinian Authority in a respective 60-30-10 percentage revenue split. The Middle East Economic Digest reported on January 5th 2001 that this agreement also includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline. The BG group thus began drilling two wells named Gaza Marine 1 and Gaza Marine 2.
Where does this leave the state of Israel? As per its very existence and usual state-run policies, based on theft and dispossession, the election of Ariel Sharon in 2001 propounded nothing different. At the Israeli Supreme Court he stated that “Israel would never buy gas from Palestine” and in 2003 vetoed a deal that would enable BG to supply Israel with natural gas from the Gaza wells. For the Israelis, the very definition of to whom the natural gas belonged to was still not understood nor accepted.
Hamas’ election victory in January 2006 and Israel’s refusal to buy gas from the Palestinians complicated matters for BG and its partners. Thus, they decided to sell natural gas to the Egyptians. And once again, Israel cried fowl. According to reports, then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair had to even intervene on behalf of Israel in order to cancel the agreement with Egypt. READ ARTICLE