The Day After The Gaza War

Dr Reuven Gal and Leon Harris

The current conflict has created a new situation: Hamas has attracted widespread condemnation and is understood to be a threat to civilized nations. The current conflict in the Middle East creates both a need and an opportunity to establish an overarching goal for the day after the war.

This goal needs to be a strategic, political, Middle Eastern global goal, based on a new interest, or better – a new mutual interest. Without a new interest, the Gazan people are unlikely to change their ways.  What could that new interest be? History shows us that economic interests are most effective after a war.  The Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, and the “Reverse Course” under General Douglas MacArthur in Japan – are typical examples.

In this case, the obvious economic interest is natural gas.  Gaza has offshore gas in the Mediterranean, known as the Gaza Marine field. But Gaza would need significant help, perhaps involving Saudi Arabia, a fellow Sunni Arab territory.

Gaza’s gas background

Gaza Marine is a natural gas field off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Marine natural gas field is located about 36 kilometres (22 miles) offshore at a depth of 2,000 feet (610 m). The field was discovered in 2000 by BG (British Gas) Group and it is estimated to contain more than 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

For many years after discovery, security and economic negotiations delayed its development. Two of the main parties involved in the negotiations are the Israreli Electric Corporation  and Egypt, which seek to convert the natural gas into liquified natural gas to export. (BG Group was also involved).

Although it is legally under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority as a result of the Oslo Accorda, Israeli forces have prevented Palestinians physical access to the offshore region and its resources. (See Wikipedia: Gaza Marine)

Clearly gas exploitation would be a huge bonus for the Gazan economy.

Israel’s position

It is tragic to note that as recently as 18 June 2023, the Israeli government gave preliminary approval for Gaza gas development (which makes the October 7 massacre even more deplorable). Here’s what the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announcement said:

“In the framework of the existing efforts between the State of Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority (PA), with emphasis on Palestinian economic development and maintaining security stability in the region, it has been decided to develop the Gaza Marine gas field off the coast of Gaza. Israel seeks to maintain the security and diplomatic interests of the State of Israel on the matter” (

Post-surrender prospects

General MacArthur realized that only when the Japanese Emperor, Hirohito, surrendered unconditionally, which he did on August 15, 1945, would the Japanese people follow suit. Only following this surrender, during the seven years (1945-1952) of Japan’s post-war occupation and reconstruction, did the Japanese people undergo the economic transition which led them into their modern era.

Similarly, despite many differences between the two cases, the Hamas leadership should be persuaded to surrender unconditionally so that the Gazan people follow suit.

Then a carefully selected new leadership (not Hamas), with Israel’s approval and international/OECD support, should undertake the renewal of Gaza Marine gas exploitation. Gaza would be allowed to join a regional trade alliance involving Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the US, the UK/BG and others. Egypt would play a prominent role because it now supplies liquified national gas to Europe instead of Russia, due to the Ukraine war.

Everyone involved would benefit.

This is how to give peace a chance.

What else is needed?

A new legal order is needed.

General Macarthur drastically changed Japanese law after 1945 to make it follow US precepts. The EU has united 27 countries under a uniform economic system. More recently, the OECD has made tax reform recommendations regarding e-commerce which is now being adopted in around 140 countries.   The Middle East should be no exception.

There is a Palestinian Authority legal system apparently based on Sharia law, but maybe a regional gas alliance might spur additional down-to-earth legislation. This would probably be a 20-year project, starting soon.

Israel does not yet have diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia. Israel needs to maintain security and military restraint over the Gaza Strip, to avoid any possibility of a Hamas revival. Above all, regional relationships would need to be agreed. Also, while gas is less polluting than coal, it may one day be out of favor for environmental reasons. 

Some may ask isn’t this like giving Gaza more Qatari money? No, this is like the Marshall Plan once Nazi Germany was defeated.

To sum up:

A gas economic alliance and reformed local legal system may be a good strategy goal for the US and Israel to aim for after the war. A myriad of details would need to be agreed, presumably in stages. But with courage, creativity and goodwill — it can be done.

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Col. (ret.) Dr. Reuven Gal, former chief psychologist of the IDF and deputy national security adviser of Israel’s National Security Council, is currently a senior research fellow at the Shmuel Neaman Institute for National Policy Studies. See also:

Leon Harris is a CPA and tax specialist at Harris Consulting & Tax Ltd.

© The Authors, November 21, 2023