June 18, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Green-Lights Gaza Offshore Gas Development

June 18, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Green-Lights Gaza Offshore Gas Development

Latest Developments

The Israeli government gave the Palestinian Authority and Egypt a green-light on June 18 to develop a natural gas field off the Gaza Strip’s shore on condition that Israel’s national interests are safeguarded.

Located about 22 miles out in Mediterranean waters, Gaza Marine is believed to hold about 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, more than enough to cover Palestinians’ energy needs and provide them with a measure of economic independence. But the prospect’s development has been held up for years given the geopolitical combustibility of Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas, an Islamist terrorist group at loggerheads with the Palestinian Authority. 

Expert Analysis

“Any progress on Gaza Marine would be welcome news for Palestinians, especially those in Gaza suffering from chronic power shortages due to the mismanagement of their Hamas rulers. But Hamas must not be allowed to reap the benefits politically — and certainly not to use the proceeds to fuel its war machine. This is an opportunity for the PA to reassert itself in Gaza as a government that provides for the people. Egypt can help by leveraging its participation in favor of the PA.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“These are the kind of major projects that can provide long term economic support to the Palestinians and improve the prospects for expanded regional normalization. But as Egypt will need to remind all parties, the project’s success will depend on the actions of Iran-backed Gaza-based terrorists.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Egypt, which has been trying to firm up the ceasefire that ended last month’s fighting between Islamic Jihad and Israel, should give the Gaza terrorist groups a clear warning: It will now take many months, possibly a few years, to get this gas flowing — and it won’t be going anywhere if you keep making trouble.” — Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

The Palestine Investment Fund

Gaza Marine is solely owned by the Palestine Investment Fund, based in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the PA’s seat of government. Since Shell gave up its stake in the field in 2018, the Palestine Investment Fund has been looking for a new foreign group to take over, and began talks with Egypt’s state-owned gas company EGAS last year.

Project Subject to Coordination

Egyptian and Palestinian officials did not immediately comment on the announcement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, which said that development of Gaza Marine could proceed “subject to coordination between the security services and direct dialogue with Egypt, in coordination with the PA … in order to maintain Israel’s security and diplomatic interests.”


Israel Palestinian Politics