CNBC Insight Palestinian ‘Treasure’ Fascinates Israel & Seizes Entrepreneurs – 6 hours ago

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Fighting in the Gaza Strip is getting hotter. The Hamas group and the Israeli military are still attacking each other, causing casualties and material losses on both sides to continue to appear.

Most recently, tensions have begun to spread to the West Bank. In the report Reuters quoted on Friday (20/10/2023), in an area that has long been a hot spot for conflict, clashes occurred between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian settlers. More than 70 Palestinians have been killed in violence in the West Bank since October 7 and Israel has arrested more than 800 people.

This series of consecutive events has made Israeli-Palestinian relations even worse. Many parties are trying to reanalyze the root causes of the conflict. One of the topics of discussion is the natural resource motive behind the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Is there a struggle for ‘treasure’ there?

Palestine, ‘Treasure’ in the Middle East

In 1938, a geologist named A. Bonne published his research “Natural Resources of Palestine”. He said there were 3 potential natural resources in the Palestinian territory.

First, Water resources. In the Middle East, which is notoriously dry, water is an invaluable source of life. Only thanks to water can society prosper and the country can grow.

While other Middle Eastern countries are busy looking for water, Palestine is blessed with abundant water. According to Bonne, water can be easily found in Palestine. When drilling into the ground, water immediately comes rushing out. The rivers rarely dry out because the cycles of summer and rain always alternate precisely.

As a result of the abundance of water coupled with the emergence of technology brought by the British, the Palestinian agricultural sector was able to grow rapidly. In fact, the presence of water is not only useful for agriculture, but also electrical energy.

Because there is no coal, the Palestinian people use the fast water of the Jordan River as a source of electrical energy. This use was proven by the existence of the Palestine Electric Corporation in 1926. Later, in large cities, such as Tel Aviv and Haifa, hydroelectric power plants began to appear.

Second, Forest products. Bonne did not explain this at length. This is because forest products in Palestine are only used for local purposes, one of which is irrigation and erosion control purposes.

Third, mineral resources. The geologist said that Palestine is not blessed with high-value mineral wealth. There we found a lot of lime, basalt, copper, manganese and asphalt, which at that time had little economic value.

However, there is one resource that has great potential, namely petroleum. In his research, Bonne wrote, “The geological structure of Palestine shows that petroleum and similar products can be found in several places in economically profitable quantities.”

There Bonne explained the key word “economically profitable.” This means that if managed well, petroleum can enable Palestine to achieve prosperity.

Moreover, when this research was published in 1938, there were already countries that were rich thanks to the exploitation of petroleum, such as the United States, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. Saudi Arabia, which discovered oil in 1948, also later became a very rich country. If we refer to this case, then Palestine should have the same fate.

Unfortunately, over time, the course of Palestinian history has diverged. Ten years later, in 1948, Davin ben-Gurion surprisingly proclaimed the first Jewish state in the world called Israel on Palestinian land. From here, the situation began to differ.

Seizing the ‘treasure’

Since Israel’s first occupation, wrote a 2019 UN report, the Palestinian population began to lose control over ownership of natural resources, especially the supply of the ‘treasure’ of water.

The Israeli authorities actually confiscated the Palestinian people’s water ownership. In the Human Rights Watch report, the seizure legally violates international law which prohibits taking over the resources of other territories for one’s own gain. Even so, Israel still did not back down. In fact, according to Amnesty International’s records, in 1967 Israel consciously revoked the rights of Palestinians to water in the West Bank.

At that time, Israel prohibited Palestinians from drilling new water wells, deepening wells, and was not allowed to take water from the Jordan River. In fact, Israel also controls and limits rainwater storage locations spread across the West Bank.

In practice, this action means that around hundreds of Palestinian communities do not have access to clean water. Even if it is accessible, the water is very small and of very poor quality. And this continues to this day. According to the UN, the impact of this policy is preventing the Palestinian economy from growing. The agricultural and industrial sectors were devastated.

The only way that people can get water is through purchase. At this point, the UN said that Israel was doing business because it saw this event as an attractive market for export growth.

This problem is only a water problem. Not to mention the issue of petroleum, which over time has proven that in the land of Palestine there is abundant petroleum. According to the USGS report, underground in Palestine at a depth of 1,000-6,000 meters can be found in large quantities of oil and natural gas.

In fact, there is a specific location called the Levant Basin which is one of the most important gas sources in the world. It is recorded that from that location there are 1.7 billion barrels of oil and 122 trillion cubic meters of gas that can be transported.

Unfortunately, just like the case of water, the ownership of this treasure is controversial.

In the notes of columnist Mahmoued Elkhafif in Al Jazeera, all these ‘treasures’ are not held by Palestinians at all. The reason is, they have lost control over ownership of fossil resources since 1967.

In 1995, there was an offshore oil and gas exploitation agreement between the British Gas Group and Israel-Palestine. However, over time Mahmoud noted, “British Gas Group and Israel ignored Palestine when it came to development and exploration rights.”

After that, every time there was an oil and gas discovery, Israel always took over. At this point, Mahmoud said that Israel legally violated various international laws, starting from the Geneva Conventions and various human rights regulations.

Mahmoud said, the distribution of oil and gas revenues should be given fairly. This is because the proceeds of the money can be used to invest in reconstruction, rehabilitation and long-term economic recovery.

[Gambas:Video CNBC]

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