Israel gave preliminary approval for the development of the Gaza Marine natural gas field off the coast of the Gaza Strip on Sunday, after negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and Egypt.
Located in the Mediterranean Sea, approximately 36 kilometres offshore of Gaza, Gaza Marine is located in a Palestinian enclave controlled by the Islamist Palestinian movement of Hamas.
The Office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in a statement that it has instructed the development project to proceed.
The decision was made “within the framework of the processes taking place between Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority, with an emphasis on the development of the Palestinian economy and maintaining security stability in the region,” the office said.
According to the office, the approval was preliminary. Implementation of the project will require “coordination between the security agencies and direct dialogue with Egypt in coordination with the Palestinian Authority … for the purpose of preserving the security and political interests of the State of Israel in the issue.”
Over the past decades, Egypt has frequently brokered ceasefire agreements between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and has been a key mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Gaza Marine field, discovered in 2000 by the British BG Group, has faced obstacles in its development, including political disputes and conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as economic factors.