Israel has approved a plan to develop a gas field off Gaza, although requiring backing from the Palestinian Authority and Egypt to move ahead.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office issued the approval yesterday. The decision on the Gaza Marine field came in line with the tripartite efforts on “Palestinian economic development and maintaining security and stability in the region”.
The project requires co-ordination with the security services, the statement said. It also needs “direct dialogue” with Egypt and co-ordination with the PA “in order to maintain the security and diplomatic interests” of Israel.
Talks were reportedly under way on the Gaza Marine development plan last year. The Washington Post said development work would cost around $1.4 billion. The report said development would take just over a year from a final agreement.
The plan last year was reported to have a 27.5% stake for the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) and a 27.5% for Consolidated Contractors Co. (CCC). Egyptian Natural Gas Holding (EGAS) would have the remaining 45%.
This plan would involve a subsea pipeline to Egyptian processing facilities. The operator could then export volumes to the local grid – and on into Palestinian territory. Gaza Marine holds around 36 billion cubic metres of gas.
Gaza is controlled by Hamas, which is engaged in a long-running conflict with Israel. For development of Gaza Marine to move forward, it would require at least some tacit collaboration between the two sides.
There has been a suggestion that Egypt could oversee the development of Gaza Marine, which may provide a means to bypass such tensions.
A recent article from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has said Hamas’ attitudes are shifting. The article reports Hamas as having shifted its perspective to Israel to one driven by a cost-benefit calculus.
“This has allowed Israel to enjoy greater calm in the areas surrounding Gaza, while securing Hamas as the sole authority in the Strip. It has also facilitated financial support for Hamas, with Israeli approval, which allows it to grant thousands of Gazan workers and merchants Israeli work permits,” Azzam Shaath wrote.