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Palestine's $500 Billion Reason To Be Subjugated
This can't be a coincidence.
By now, you have probably heard about what is going on in Palestine. We have been told that the mass offensive on Palestine by Israel is in self-defence after Hamas attacked and killed 1,400 Israelis. Yet, the mass bombing of Palestinian civilian infrastructure and the only open escape routes has led to the death of over 10,000 Palestinians, 4,104 of them children, 2,641 women and 611 elderly. Both sides have suffered a tragedy, yet this conflict remains profoundly asymmetrical. Why is Israel conducting such a disproportionate response and willing to commit war crimes in the process? Some have pointed to the expansionist, racist, dehumanising and fascist-leaning nature of the Zionist Israeli state (which many Jews are firmly against). Indeed, I have made this point myself in a previous article. But, the reason behind this heinous oppression and conflict and subsequent Western support might be far more black and white. One that is repeated time and time again through the annals of history. It’s all about fossil fuels.
I recently read a fascinating article by Rachel Donald (read it here), where she highlighted a recent UN UNCTAD study that found that underneath the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), such as Area C of the West Bank and the Mediterranean coast of the Gaza Strip, there are vast reservoirs of oil and natural gas. Studies have found this territory contains 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil. All of this is worth around $524 billion! However, as Donald points out, the UN report questions Israel’s “national right” to these resources and argues they should be shared among local parties, especially as most of these reserves are in formally Palestinian-held territory, which Israel has occupied under deeply questionable means. Despite this, Israel has for decades been the only nation profiting off of the regional gas and oil fields it effectively stole from Palestine. They even refuse to supply Palestine with natural gas or let them extract it, as Israel is worried it would fund terrorism.
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Like the open-air concentration camps, the massive military presence and apartheid state Israel has made isn’t a form of terrorism and isn’t supported by oil and gas money…
Donald effortlessly demonstrates why this war could be driven by fossil fuel greed in Israel. Her analysis is fantastic and to the point, but it is through a regional lens, not a global lens. When you zoom out, it’s easy to see why Israel is so willing to trample on the Palestinian people to get to this tainted natural resource, and it isn’t just for their economic gain. This isn’t a better viewpoint than Donald’s, just different.
Firstly, we have to understand why natural gas, particularly gas that is from a Western-allied nation, is so essential today.
This has two parts. Russian and half-arsed climate action.
Back in 2021, the EU imported 83% of its natural gas, and Russia made up 50% of these imports. In fact, the EU was the leading importer of Russian gas, accounting for 82% of Russian gas exports in 2021. Once the war in Ukraine kicked off, the EU needed to quickly phase itself off Russian gas. Not only was their use of it funding the Kremlin’s war machine, but it was also leaving them open to energy blackmail from Putin. By the end of 2022, they had successfully reduced Russian gas imports down to only 10%, replacing them mostly with gas shipped from the US via LNG ships rather than pipelines like Russia. The rapid restructuring was only possible thanks to the LNG ships, as this already existing infrastructure was incredibly flexible and could run at a far higher capacity than it used to.
Now, Russia and the US are the world’s leading gas exporters, and this extra US demand puts enormous pressure on the US gas industry, which isn’t used to supplying such vast amounts. As such, US gas companies are looking to expand and tap new resources to meet the new, growing European demand.
There is the other side of this equation: half-arsed climate action. Take Germany; rather than continue to use their fleet of amazing nuclear power stations, which have carbon emissions lower than solar power, they opted to entirely phase them out and replace them with natural gas and coal. Why? They have a weird aversion to nuclear power, despite the statistics saying it is by far the best power option for them (read my article about this here). They wanted to replace the lost capacity with primarily natural gas, as it is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and, as such, is considered a “transition fuel.” What’s more, thanks to pipelines from Russia, they could quickly adopt this cheap-to-build and relatively clean fuel. Sadly, that didn’t go to plan, thanks to Russia, and they now have to use even dirtier coal power as well as gas power to flesh out their energy grid.
Many countries in the West, Middle East and Asia are doing the same thing and relying on gas to reduce their overall emissions. This is obviously not a great idea regarding planetary health, but they are doing it nonetheless. As such, natural gas is one of the few fossil fuels with a stable future, as demand is set to stay pretty steady for at least another decade, if not more. This continued demand means that the natural gas industry needs to substantially expand and invest in more gas fields to supply demand until at least 2050.
With both of these factors in mind, the natural gas under Palestine looks incredibly strategically important for the future. Especially when you realise that global fossil fuel reserves, including natural gas, will likely be wholly depleted as early as 2060. Whichever nation has control over this resource will have a distinct advantage in the near future, as they could use gas power for longer than anyone else and avoid having to invest as much into renewable infrastructure and keep the political and energy industry status quo (which will help whoever is in power stay in power).
Now, despite Israel reaching record-high gas exports in 2022, with profits from the industry up 50% in the first half of the year, they currently only export to two countries, Jordan and Egypt. As such, you might think that Westerners can’t get their hands on this resource. But you’d be wrong.
Israel has been planning to export gas via LNG ships to the EU and possibly even the US for a while now. Such vessels and infrastructure will cost several billion dollars, but considering the value of the gas asset Israel currently controls, this is just a drop in the water. Moreover, Israel has already issued gas licences to Western companies such as BP and Eni. BP, coincidentally, has a massive political lobbying arm in the US and UK. It is also incredibly close to the UK and the US governments, as it is a significant part of the two countries’ economy and energy infrastructure.
So, in the not-too-distant future, the West could become the leading purchaser of Israeli gas (that should be Palestinian). Not only that, but Western oil companies, who hold massive sway in our governments through funding and lobbying, would be the ones profiting from this. Now, If Israel left Palestine alone and allowed them to drill for this gas, the Palestinians wouldn’t let Western nations in like this. Instead, they would likely turn to their Muslim Middle Eastern neighbours and sell their gas to them via pipelines or even grant them licences to extract it. After all, these are the nations which support Palestine, and they are nations which will struggle to adopt renewable energy, so this gas is more valuable to them.
Now, do you think the West would let the Middle East take this resource so easily? Or do you think they would do something drastic to secure it for themselves and their economy?
The West has a history of going to war under false pretences to gain access to fossil fuel resources. Just look at the Iraq War and the Gulf War. The West, especially the US, are explicitly allies of Israel to keep influence in the Middle East to grant them consistent access to oils and gas, and even supply them with billions of dollars a year and access to military hardware to bolster this influence. It isn’t a huge leap to conclude that the West’s firm support of Israel, despite its numerous war crimes, genocide and illegal occupation of Palestine, is because it wants Israel to destroy Palestine, so it can gain access to this vital energy source, whilst appearing to be ethical and face no direct consequences.
Now, Do I think this is the sole reason for dogged Western support? No, I don’t. There are a plethora of factors at play here. But with the precedent the West has set over the past hundred years, I think this is likely one of the leading reasons we, as Western nations, struggle to condemn Israel for their actions and don’t actively help the Palestinians. This is also why we climate journalists and activists have a right to report and criticise this conflict. If the West was fully committed and on the path to adopting renewable energy at the levels we should be to save the planet, we wouldn’t need access to this gas. Our need for global domination, influence, proxy colonialism and wide-scale resource theft would be significantly reduced. But as it stands, our society will depend on this tainted energy source for decades to come, and in doing so, condemning the Palestinians to brutality on a scale we cannot fathom whilst pushing the globe further into an irreparable climate disaster.
So, I think you will agree with me when I say let’s hold Israel accountable for their war crimes, create a ceasefire in Palestine to save these poor, subjugated civilians, and f**k fossil fuels.
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Sources: Planet: Critical, UNCTAD, McKinsey, Al Jazeera, UN, Atalayar, The Washington Institute, EU, Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Human Rights Watch, RUSI, Statista, CNN, Georgia State University, MERPI, Relief Web, The Guardian, Planet Earth & Beyond