Israel wants to develop gas field off Gaza with Egypt, Palestinians

19 Jun 2023 12:03pm
Picture for illustrative purposes - FILE PIX
Picture for illustrative purposes - FILE PIX
TEL AVIV - Israel wants to develop a gas field off the coast of the Gaza Strip together with Egypt and the Palestinian authority, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced on Sunday, reported German news agency (dpa).

The goal is to develop the Palestinian economy and stabilise security in the region, his office said.

Implementation is subject to cooperation with Egypt and the Palestinian authority, though Israel said it would ensure that its security and diplomatic interests are protected under the deal.

The Jerusalem Post wrote on Sunday that the Egyptian state-owned company Egas was likely to develop the gas field about 30 km off the coast. The gas deposit is estimated to be the equivalent of about 28.3 billion cubic metres. This exceeds demand in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian autonomous areas in the West Bank, so that gas could also be exported.

A spokesman for Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, said the gas belongs to the Palestinians.

"The gas off the coast of the Gaza Strip is a natural wealth that belongs to all the poor, youth and future generations of our Palestinian people, especially in the Gaza Strip. They have a full right to benefit from the natural resources," he said.

Hamas will not allow Israel to misuse the gas field for what it said were "blackmailing positions" or as a "tool to pass security or political deals with some parties in the Palestinian situation."

More than two million people live in very poor conditions in the Gaza Strip. The Islamist Palestinian organisation Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 and took sole control of the Gaza Strip by force a year later.

Since then, there have been de facto two separate Palestinian governments in Gaza and the West Bank and no new parliamentary or presidential elections. Israel then tightened a blockade of the coastal area. Egypt, fearful of militant Hamas forces, has suppored the blockade - BERNAMA
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