In a perplexing about-face, there has been a revival of efforts to permit the exploration of Gaza Marine, the gas reserves located off the coast of Gaza. The development of this gas field is inarguably advantageous, as it could allow Palestinians to create an independent and competitive energy sector. Yet this push for exploration must be seen within its wider context, as part of a quid pro quo arrangement which reinforces Israel’s continuing colonization of Palestinian resources.
Over the past few years, Israel has entered into Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with both Palestinian and Jordanian counterparts to export gas from its reserves located in the Eastern Mediterranean basin. Pushed forward surreptitiously, these negotiations were initially met with little public protest. But as news of the deals broke out, Palestinians and Jordanians began mobilizing against normalization with Israel through these gas deals, given the persistence of the occupation. Potentially in response to such public pressure, reports recently emerged which cast doubt about the future of Israel’s first gas deal with the Palestinian Power Generation Company (PPGC).
This uncertainty spotlights the mounting popular challenge to the regional gas deals that the Quartet and the State Department have been trying to assemble as part of a wider geopolitical puzzle. It is also why the Palestinian gas fields off the coast of Gaza have suddenly re-entered the picture.