I shall almost certainly catch a ration of shit for this but:
I was raised among very polite, genteel racists. My dad loved to tell a good story, had a linguist's ear for accents, and an elitist's scorn for those whom he considered less than his equals (during my youth, at any rate; my brother tells me he later amended his ways), so every ethnic group was fair game. One story he delighted in telling ended with the line: "And, lo, Moses then fled Pharoah and led his people, the Israelites, forth from Egypt, and they wandered 40 years in the desert, and, lo, at last they returned to Israel. The only place in the entire Middle East WITHOUT any oil...That Moses, eh? Some LEADER (headsmack)! OY!!"
That energy-sparse condition hadn't changed materially in 3000 years when, in 1948, the United Nations (and, importantly, the United States) expropriated Arab Palestine to grant a homeland --a Jewish State-- to the survivors of the systemic holocaust against European Jews, 1937-45 (though, actually, in fact, there are a couple of oil and gas fields under post-1967 Israel).
And, with their relentless assault on the Gaza Strip the State of Israel-qua-State may be endeavoring --whatsoever else they proclaim to be doing with the horrific and egregious invasion-- to improve their energy reserves.
Because (wouldn't you just KNOW it?) there JUST HAPPENS TO BE a pretty, great, honking-big bubble of natural gas out in the Mediterranean off the coast of...wait for it...Gaza. It lies under what would be Palestinian waters, if there were actually a Palestinian state.
The field reportedly holds one trillion cubic feet of gas, the equivalent of 150 million barrels of oil, equivalent to a large North Sea field. There are a couple of ancillary fields, too, access to which --the vulnerable pipelines to and from which, mainly-- would be perilously close to the northern edge of Gaza. But the field, mapped by BP in 2000, seems to almost exactly map on the Gaza coast line.
And in a development that is probably deeply resented in Tel Aviv, Israel buys gas from the BG fields off Gaza, some of the royalties of which go back to the Palestinian Authority.
The Times reports (in 2007) that British energy firm BG Group is poised to agree the terms of an historic $4 billion deal to supply gas to Israel from a discovery off the Gaza coastline. The deal is the result of a decision by PM Olmert to abandon the objections of former PM Sharon and buy energy from the Palestinians after giving away control over Gaza and its resources. BG Group had reportedly threatened to pump the gas to Egypt.One might wonder if some part of the continuing violence against Gaza may be the Israeli's way of saving some money?
According to the paper, representatives from the British energy company are scheduled next week to meet negotiators appointed by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a 15-year contract. Despite the violence in Gaza, and the threat to Ashkelon, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has insisted that it wants to conclude a deal "as soon as possible."
The deal would enable BG Group, former owner of British Gas, to begin developing the Palestine Authority's only natural resource. There would be enough gas to provide 10 per cent of Israel's annual energy requirement, and the Palestinians would receive total royalties of $1 billion, 25% of the overall expenditure.
The sensitive bilateral talks could be derailed at any time by the acute political tension that surrounds the deal, but Nigel Shaw, the BG Group vice-president in the region, reported "making progress" and said "this is a chance for greater economic prosperity in Palestine and that is only good for peace."
Myself, I think it part and parcel with Israel's territorial ambitions. Israel-qua-State is, imho, irreversibly dedicated to ethnically cleansing Palestinian Arabs from whichsoever enclaves where they persist. Israel also, of course, controls virtually ALL the natural resources of the region. It arbitrates, almost exclusively, the distribution of all water in the Jordan River valley between Lebanon and the Egyptian border, for instance. The dispute over water resources has been a feature of the Arab-Israeli conflict since its beginning, however the issue has been paid little attention in works on the Six-Day War. This neglect stems from the fact that research on water issues in the Jordan basin has often been highly technical and has been mostly overshadowed by the more dramatic diplomatic and strategic narrative. The Palestinians on the West Bank (the Abbas/Fateh part) have no authority at all in such matters. The 2006 war with Hezbollah was regarded by many to have been a water war for control of the northern entry points into Israel of the Litani River from Lebanon.