Middle East energy deal

Stephen Beard May 23, 2007
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Middle East energy deal

Stephen Beard May 23, 2007
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TEXT OF STORYSCOTT JAGOW: Getting Israelis and Palestinians to agree to anything is a monumental task. So what we have this morning could be history in the making. There’s a huge natural gas field off the coast of Gaza. Gaza is controlled by the Palestinians. A British energy group is close to a deal that would send some of that Palestinian natural gas to Israel. Stephen Beard has more from London.


STEPHEN BEARD: BG discovered the Gaza offshore field at the beginning of the decade.

It’s a big one, holding enough natural gas to supply 10 percent of Israel’s energy needs for 15 years.

If BG signs the deal, it will be a milestone in Palestinian-Israeli relations. Six years ago the then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said his country would never buy gas from Gaza, but Israel’s fast growing economy needs more fuel.

The Foreign Ministry in Tel Aviv says that Israel now wants to conclude the gas deal as soon as possible.

Some big questions have yet to be settled, such as how the $1 billion worth of royalties will be paid to the Palestinians. Some Israeli ministers want it to be paid in goods and services. They claim it would be folly to hand over cash to a government controlled by Hamas.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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