Palestinian civil society leaders and politicians are calling on Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to pull its backing from a $1.2 billion deal providing Israeli gas to the disputed territories for the next 20 years, Middle East Eye reports.
Opposition to the deal comes a month after Jordanian officials have suspended talks over a $15 billion gas deal with U.S.-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group, which are partners in Israel’s largest offshore gas field, Leviathan.
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The Palestinian deal was signed last month by the same two companies, with the privately-owned Palestine Power Generation Company (PPGC).
The gas will fuel a $300 million electric power plant PPGC says it is developing in Jenin, which will be the first Palestinian power plant in the West Bank.
But on Tuesday, Palestinian politicians and activists at a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions press conference in Ramallah, said the deal is lacking in consideration for alternative providers—e.g. not the Jews.
The group also warned about the absence of clear Palestinian laws on natural resource and energy governance—which means they expect their leaders to steal most of the money, like they usually do.
“I think there is corruption because there is no law that would monitor and regulate this sector, ” said Azmi Shuaibi, commissioner of Aman, a Palestinian anti-corruption watchdog. “This sector is hugely corrupt.”
They also questioned the need to lock down a 20-year deal, when gas deals in the past were kept to two years, and why Israel is a better trading partner than, say, Qatar or Venezuela.
“This deal will put burdens on the Palestinian people for a long period, ” said Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. “The people are not partners in this agreement.”
Jarrar argued that the gas deal is not a path to peace, but a premature normalization of relations between Israel and the Palestinians, cementing the abandoning of any future final status agreement.
Dr Mamdouh Akar, Commissioner General for Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories who also spoke on Tuesday, recommended that, in addition to boycotting Israeli gas, Palestinians should keep the gas they have underground until the laws governing natural resources are clear.
“We have to keep our gas for the next generation, ” Akar said.