Gazans live on a narrow slip of land hugging the Mediterranean Sea. It resembles Vietnam, a thin S-shaped country slithering along the rim of the South China Sea. The Gaza Strip is 25 miles long and 3.7 miles wide in some places. An Israeli armed buffer zone renders much of the land off-limits to the 1.85 million Palestinians who are choked on 141 square miles, making it the 3rd most densely populated “political unit” in the world.

Natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean have raised deep concerns regarding Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza, the denial through military force of Palestinians’ access to natural gas reserves and fishing waters, and raised troubling queries regarding the (il)legality of extractive operations in the vicinity of Palestinian gas reserves. These natural gas discoveries have also ignited conflicting maritime territorial claims by Lebanon. The ill-conceived Al-Aqsa attacks triggered a barrage of rockets from Lebanon’s Hezbollah into Israel. Israel responded with artillery strikes. But Hezbollah’s political calculus was measured.

The gas finds have raised awareness about the human rights impacts associated with natural gas exploration in the Mediterranean, including impacts to the right to self-determination, freedom of movement, access to livelihoods, respect for human rights and corporate accountability, particularly those involved in promoting accountability in the development of Mediterranean gas fields. Resource economists confirm that the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) lies above sizeable reservoirs of oil and natural gas wealth, in Area C of the West Bank and the Mediterranean coast off the Gaza Strip, according to UNCTAD. Natural gas discoveries in the Levant Basin are in the range of 122 trillion cubic feet while recoverable oil is estimated at 1.7 billion barrels, according to the study entitled “The Economic Cost of Occupation for the Palestinian People: The Unrealized Oil and Natural Gas Potential.”

The discoveries offer an opportunity to distribute and share about US$524 billion among the Abrahamic faiths in the region and promote peace. But Israel sees the discoveries as vital to its energy independence. Noble Energy, a Texan gas company, was extensively involved in the exploration of Israeli licensed offshore gas fields. In 2010, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the Levant Basin Province placed the Eastern Mediterranean among the world’s most prominent producers of natural gas in the decades to come.

The northern end of the Levant Basin lies near the Syrian port of Tartus, snaking down the coastlines of Lebanon, Israel, and the Gaza Strip and west towards Cyprus that is occupied by Turkey. The deepwater Karish and Tanin gas fields off the Gaza Strip mark a significant departure from the larger contiguous Tamar and Leviathan deposits both under development through deepwater subsea completions connected via long-distance flowlines to fixed platforms closer to the shore.

In January 2021, the UAE agreed to establish an embassy in Tel Aviv and Israel opened its embassy in Abu Dhabi. By April, 2021, the UAEs’ Mubadala Petroleum, with $232bn in assets, signed an MoU with Israel to buy a 22% stake in the Tamar offshore gas field. Both Trumpian orchestrations were hallowed by the “Abrahamic Accords” and consecrated the ideas of mutual coexistence, respect for human dignity, religious freedom, and interfaith dialogue to advance a culture of peace – not apartheid.

But this “culture of peace” was disturbed. The destruction that followed was fuelled by the deprivations inside the Hamas-held Gaza. The corrupt Palestinian National Authority led by Abbas decided to indefinitely delay the first Palestinian national elections in 15 years. For eleven-days of hostilities, Abbas lost his tongue, while a gallant Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent demanded that “the state of Israel cease its most recent military campaign against the State of Palestine.” Abbas looked like Tan Tan. A Minshallesque puppet on poles, danced by a masked monarch.

The Mubadala deal serves to attract foreign investors’ interest ahead of a fresh round of bidding for licences in waters off the Gaza. But Israel is struggling to attract interest from International Oil Companies (IOCs) – even during the previous bidding rounds. The Gazan gas fields drew little attention from Western IOCs, with the exception of Nobel. ExxonMobil and Total abstained, citing the “complex” geopolitical situation. These fields are not large enough to secure unconditional interest, but they are also too large for the gas extracted from them to be consumed domestically. So Israel must demonstrate that the gas it will extract can be sold on external markets.

Any pretence by the US to be a truthful broker was erased by Trumpism. Biden was left in a weakened position. Biden wished to avoid this intractable disfigurement and focus on Iran, Russia and China, and transnational midfields like climate change and domestic projects like building resilient supply chains and a new education system. But reality gets a vote. Biden must also work with Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib, the Somalian Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Puerto Rican ancestry from the Bronx. This diversity bleeds a wider miscellany of viewpoints and a diffusion of power inside Congress. In 1945, Congress had 1% of persons from such backgrounds. Two decades ago it had 11%. In 2021, it is 23%. And the World is Watching.