Israeli Energy Independence Increases Conflict?

I guess that whatever happens, if Israel is involved, it must mean more conflict. That was my first thought on seeing this headline, Israel’s Undersea Gas Bonanza May Spur Mideastern Strife – Bloomberg. Energy independence should be a big step towards lowering strife, especially given how often the pipeline from Egypt to Israel gets blown up (10 times last year, according to the article.) The article actually turned out to be an interesting discussion of the implications of finding an oil field which crosses international boundaries or disputed territory. (Lebanon did initially claim that one oil field enters its territory, but it seems that it was not a relevant claim.) So why is this theoretical future challenge news? The writer is a professor of the practice of international affairs. The article is a report of her student’s suggestions for resolving the problem of conflicting claims of underwater oil fields. It turns out it is not entirely theoretical. As she points out, this situation has occurred before. Her students suggested two possible outcomes – either the resources are shared without prejudice to the underlying issues, or development is blocked. Not surprisingly, these are the two outcomes seen in real life. She must teach well. (Or else, there are only two possible outcomes.) She does not address a third possibility, that Israel will continue to extract oil in contested fields without resolving the issue. It is strange she does not mention this possibility, as it is really the only one that fits her headline, which suggests that the discovery of oil will lead to increased strife. So which of her two possible outcomes leads to greater strife in the middle east? Obviously cooperation of any sort lowers strife, so I guess her headline is suggesting that development will be frozen by the refusal of neighboring countries to work out a way to share the resources. But that is only a continuation of the current stale mate. I guess the only reason she mentioned strife was to get reader’s attention, and I guess it worked.


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