Israel OKs development of gas field offshore Gaza Strip

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JERUSALEM, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Israel gave on Sunday preliminary approval for the development of a natural gas field off the coast of the Gaza Strip, following negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and Egypt.

The Gaza Marine natural gas field is located in the Mediterranean Sea, approximately 36 kilometers offshore of Gaza, a Palestinian enclave controlled by the Islamist Palestinian movement of Hamas and subjected to a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Office announced in a statement that it has "instructed to carry out the gas field development project."

The decision to advance the development of Gaza Marine took place "within the framework of the processes taking place between Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, with an emphasis on the development of the Palestinian economy and maintaining security stability in the region," the office said.

According to the office, the approval was preliminary and the implementation of the project will require "coordination between the security agencies and direct dialogue with Egypt in coordination with the Palestinian Authority ... for the purpose of preserving the security and political interests of the State of Israel in the issue."

Over the past decades, Egypt has been a key mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, frequently brokering ceasefire agreements between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Discovered in 2000 by the British BG Group, the Gaza Marine field has encountered obstacles in its development, including political disputes and conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as economic factors. Enditem

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