Zionist Theft of Palestinian Resources

Basma Qaddour, Orinoco Tribune, March 12, 2024 —

The story of Gas Resources and Gaza

Recently there was a discovery of oil and gas in the Levant Basin. And this Levant Basin extends over 85,000 square kilometers that would go from Egypt through Palestine, through Israel and Lebanon and going to Syria and to Cyprus.

The Levant Basin has about 122 trillion cubic feet of gas, 1.7 billion barrels of oil. And this resource, whether it’s oil or the gas, straddles many political borders. these resources are underground. They do not obey political borders. They are shared resources. They are part of what is called in economics “The Global Commons”. And what this means? That not a single country can claim them. They belong to the collective of countries that front the Mediterranean. Israel was not happy with that.

Israelis tried as much as possible to deny the Palestinians of the natural gas that is about 20 nautical miles from their shore, and the Marine 1- they are known- and Marine 2, and as I said that this is shared resource.

I won’t tell you how many  trillions of cubic feet are there because part of this gas is fugitive. It could move, and part of it is in that common aquifer. If one party were to use it, it would deny the other. It’s literally an issue that the Americans had faced when they discovered oil in Texas and Oklahoma, and everybody wanted to drill and lift some of this oil up to the ground, and then they found out that this would really mean dissipation of the natural flow that would have lifted this resource to the ground. So, they decided that the best way to deal with it is to unitize, and they were aided by a theorem called “Coase Theorem” by Ronald Coase that argued and got Nobel Prize for it that you should separate the use, an exploitation of a common resource from the ownership.

What you do is that you unitize these and you lift that oil at the most optimum place where you could use the natural flow forces, and then you put the money in escrow and you divide it up in proportion to the property rights because if you allowed each group to lift it, the net profit of each group summed up would be substantially below what you could get ,if you were collectively able to exploit it. And many people are saying that this common resource in the Mediterranean should be treated exactly the same way, and that each party should have a claim in proportion to its property right.

These resources take 10,000 years to accumulate, and therefore it’s not how much frontage you have. You also have to really look at the historical things.

Israel” is probably in the region about 75 years and maybe even . Palestinians have been there for thousands of years. So, on one dimension you look at the geographical one, but on the vertical axis you look at time. And if you look at these two coordinates, the Palestinians have more claim to these resources, shared resources, higher than anybody else. Palestinians are historic people been in the region for thousands of years.

But the story short, is that if we allow Israel to use these resources, they will diminish what’s available to the Palestinians; to the Lebanese; to the Syrians; to the Cypriots and to the Egyptians. And what’s even worse is this resource is not only finite, which means if one party take more, it will be less for others. It’s also nonrenewable. There’s no chance of replenishing this resource. So, to a great extent one has to be very careful and make sure that equity and efficiency require that there will be common exploitation and a just and equitable way of distributing it.

What does this mean? This resource now has become extremely more valuable. At all 2017 prices, before the Ukraine-Russian war, I estimated this to be in the neighborhood of about $450 billion. But now natural gas has become far more expensive. The destruction of North Stream 2, and we all know who probably did it, has now made it impossible for Europe to get access to Russian gas, and they’re all looking towards the Mediterranean to make up for this because they were trying to get some of the fracking from the US but it was about four times more expensive what they were able to get it from the Russians.

So, to a great extent now, the natural gas value has gone up maybe three, two and a half time, three times more when it used to be in 2017. And what’s even more important is that nobody knows how long this natural gas is going to last.  if you keep digging and lifting up, less is going to be available in the future.

So, whoever gets it now is in a very fortunate position. And what’s happening today is this common resource that belongs to all these countries is only exploited by the Israelis and denying the others. The Israelis at one time, when Ehud Barak, for example, in 2007 and even before, were trying to see if that gas that belonged or in the economic zone of Gaza could be bought by the Israelis and piped into Ashkelon and used by the Israeli electricity company and paid the Palestinians $4 billion. This would be investment in peace , and then the Palestinians could now depend on their own natural resources and do not have to depend on international aid.

But what Sharon and others are doing today is that the whole resource is totally commandeered and contradicts what international law and the Geneva Convention would say that the occupier has no right to exploit resources belonging to the occupied people unless it is used to help the occupied. But now what the Israelis are doing are siphoning up, slanted drilling, drilling directly and moving it to their own territory without giving benefits to the Palestinian people, to the occupied people, to the very poor, the poorest of the poor in the region, the people of Gaza and the Palestinians.

So, the story of the gas is one that would definitely give incentive to the Israelis to keep a hold on Gaza to deny the Gazans, to deny the Palestinians despite all the agreements that they were able to reach before 2007, they’re completely scrapped and the Palestinians are losing billions of dollars by being denied access, and the only way you could guarantee this complete command and control over this is to make sure there no Palestinian entity that could vye with the Israelis or compete with them to occupy.

So, this was one resource that I considered to be crucial incentive for the Israelis in going to Gaza and making sure they control this resource and deny the Palestinian any possible, because the Palestinians during- you know- the early 2000 when they were discovered, they already gave British Gas the right to go and exploit this and the money they  could receive themselves. Actually, Arafat went there at one time and lit- you know- a spout to show that the gas is already being lifted and their exist gas, and now you see the situation is Gaza. If it doesn’t have any legitimate control and you know any effective control and it’s taken by the Israelis, you’ll be in a very difficult situation that denies these generations of Palestinians from the fruits of exploitation of natural resources that belong legitimately and under international law and under any law to the people of Palestine.

Occupation of Palestine has been very profitable for the Israelis to a great extent some of the studies by UNCTAD  have shown that Israel derives substantial benefits from this occupation, even some have really gone as far as estimating it to be in excess of 11- 12% of the Israeli GDP is derived from that nonbenign and brutal occupation. And I think this has always been an underestimate because somehow sometimes we only look at a few aspects. But if you try to estimate the resource transfer whether it’s of water, oil, gas and some of the most fertile agricultural land that had been occupied and commandeered by the Israelis, onne would find that these economic benefits have been important consideration

This is part of what Palestinian economist prof. Atif kubrusi said in a recent interview conducted by the Dr. Cambridge Center for Palestine Studies.

Here below the link of the full interview


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