Op-Ed by José Eriel Muniz Gomez
After more than 40 years trying to identify whether Israel had any natural resources in its territory, the frustrations of the Jewish state reached its boiling point in 2010 with the discovery of the Leviathan natural gas field on the Mediterranean Sea coast. Israel, which had previously discovered natural gas in 2009 in its Mediterranean waters, is now being placed in a position of privilege and strength in economic terms. This site, which was discovered by a Russian natural gas exploration company, is undoubtedly one of the largest deposits in the world. This finding has led Israel to have signed a $3 billion dollar contract with this company to also carry out the exploitation of this deposit. Thanks to this finding, Israel will receive more than 60% of the earnings from the sale of natural gas, and it is estimated that by the end of 2017 the country will supply its own energy consumption by 50%. In addition, Israel has already begun exporting natural gas to Egypt and Jordan. Interestingly, in 2015, Israel signed a $10 trillion dollar agreement to export natural gas to the Hashemite Kingdom.
But not only is it estimated that Israel has 3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, it has also been suggested that Israel has 6 billion barrels of oil in the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, the most promising of this is that only 7% of Israel’s waters have been studied, suggesting that the amount of black gold mentioned above may actually be higher. In a contextual way, this scenario joins the prominent panorama that demonstrates the incursion of the Chinese construction market-with the creation of a port in Ashkelon-and the arrival of the Greek, Russian and Indian military market into the country’s economic development process. This marvelous framework of opportunities that Israel is currently experiencing is key in order to make the country converge on economic and diplomatic matters with its Arab neighbors, or at least push the state in that direction.
In the face of recent expressions of U.S. President, Donald Trump supporting Israel’s military and mere right to exist, there is no doubt that Israel will once again have an unconditional ally in the international community, at both the economic and military levels. A partner who is seeking for peace in any way: through a two-state solution or a one-state solution, through the annexation of Judea and Samaria, or just area C. The reality dictated by President Trump not only demonstrates that he is committed to the peace process, but also that this issue is a very complicated one that I consider Israel will now have an advantage not because of its newly rekindled love with the United States, but because of its natural resources. This new market will make peace closer than ever.
Let me explain to you. Today, Palestinians depend on 65% and 73% of Israeli electricity and water, respectively. Threatening Palestinians and their Arab allies with losing those services to make them sit down to directly negotiate is intelligent. Yes, some will appeal to feelings and denounce the “cruelty of the Zionist entity”; however, the advantage that Israel is acquiring thanks to its natural resources must be used as a vital weapon for the survival and its struggle to achieve peace. On the other hand, if the United States moves its embassy to Jerusalem, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) decides to stop recognizing the Jewish state [as they have previously said they will do (Jordan supports this move)], threatening Jordan with paralyzing the provision of 7% of its drinking water and freezing the gas agreement should be an idea to consider fully. Only then will Israel be able to solidify, now and forever, its power and its right to exist in Eretz Israel. And yes, along with its Arab neighbors from a position of strength and clout.
José Eriel Gomez is a student in Israel Studies and Neurosciences at the American University in Washington, DC. Among his accomplishments, he has held professional internships in the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico and the National Committee of the College Republicans in Washington, DC. In addition to his passion for legislative lobbying in Washington, he emphasizes his interest in US and European politics and Middle East related issues. Aside from collaborating with the Times of Israel, José also collaborates with Diario Judío (Mexico) and with the Daily Capitol (Puerto Rico). His columns have also been published in Argentina and Chile. José just published his ever columns collection textbook titled “Panorama Internacional: Una mirada a la geopolítica e historia internacional (2016-2017)”.