EU to supply electricity to Israeli settlements

From left to right, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after signing energy deals at a summit in Thessaloniki, Greece, in June 2017, that Palestinians say will fuel Israeli impunity.

Vasili Ververidi Xinhua

The European Union will within a few years be supplying electricity to Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights, all of which are illegal under international law.

That is what will happen when a major EU-backed infrastructure project, the EuroAsia Interconnector, is completed.

This is a subsea cable system that will connect the Israeli electricity grid to Europe via Greece and Cyprus.

This “energy highway” will create “a reliable alternative route for the transfer of electric energy to and from Europe,” according to the project website.

The European Union has given the initiative high-level support as a “project of common interest” that will “allow for bidirectional transmission of electricity” between EU states and the Israeli grid.

The leaders of Greece and Cyprus signed an agreement in June 2017 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, blessing the EuroAsia Interconnector and other joint energy projects.

Last month a $4.3 billion tender was published seeking contractors to build the EuroAsia Interconnector.

Supplying settlements

When the system is completed by 2021, European electricity will help fuel Israel’s impunity for international crimes, according to the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the steering group of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign for Palestinian rights.

“This would connect Israel’s illegal settlements with the European electric grid,” putting the EU in violation of its own policies and its obligation not to recognize or assist Israel’s illegal actions, the BNC notes in a briefing document published last month.

The BNC notes that since large natural gas reserves were discovered in the late 1990s in the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, Israel has been involved in disputes over who should control them.

“By purchasing gas from Israel, whether directly or indirectly, the EU would become complicit in Israel’s illegal annexation of the occupied Palestinian territory, its illegal settlements and the war crime of pillage of Palestinian natural resources,” the briefing states.

Keeping Gaza in the dark

Human rights defenders have previously concluded that Israel’s ongoing maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip is motivated by its desire to prevent Palestinians exploiting the gas reserves off Gaza’s shores.

“Israel not only denies Palestinians access to gas reserves off the coast of Gaza but has also illegally exploited these resources for its exclusive benefit while depriving Palestinians of revenues,” the BNC states.

Meanwhile, Gaza continues to suffer acute, life-threatening electricity shortages, compounded by Israel’s “refusal to live up to its responsibilities as an occupying power.”

Palestinian efforts to develop the gas reserves off Gaza continue to falter. This week, Royal Dutch Shell announced it was giving up its stake in the Gaza Marine gas field, leaving the Palestinian Authority with no international partner.

Israel also recently threatened Lebanon over the Beirut government’s plans to develop its maritime gas fields.

“EU gas purchases from Israel will foment armed conflict between Israel and Lebanon, which in turn threatens Europe’s energy security arising from interruptions of supplies should war break out,” the BNC warns.

It also says EU investors face a “high probability of financial losses due to the unstable and unpredictable security situation.”

According to the BNC, Israel has faced difficulties securing investment in some of its gas projects due to concerns over potential Palestinian and Lebanese legal challenges, security, cost and geological instability.

But the EU has continued to be a reliable source of support for Israel.

Greece’s Energean Oil & Gas has just announced that it has secured $1.27 billion in financing to develop the Israeli-controlled Karish gas field.

That deal is being underwritten by the French banks Natixis and Société Générale, and Israel’s Bank Hapoalim. Like all major Israeli banks Hapoalim is deeply complicit in illegal colonization of occupied territory.


“Israel’s approach for accessing the European gas market has been to forge an alliance with Cyprus and Greece, spanning economic, political and military cooperation,” the BNC states. “This has come at the expense of both countries’ historic support for Palestinian rights.”

Greece’s ostensibly radical left Syriza government – headed by Alexis Tsipras – has continued to tighten its embrace of Israel.

But elite collaboration with Israel at the expense of Palestinians is not restricted to Israel’s European allies.

The Israeli and American partners developing the so-called Leviathan field announced Wednesday that they are ready to start supplying Jordan with gas through direct pipelines and via Egypt.

This will bring online a $10 billion deal Jordan signed to buy Israeli-supplied gas in the face of staunch popular opposition.

Also last month, Egypt’s ruling junta signed a deal to buy $15 billion worth of gas from Israel.

That came after news that Abdulfattah al-Sisi, the army chief who seized power in a 2013 military coup, has been allowing Israel to carry out airstrikes against insurgents in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

“This dependence bodes ill for Egyptians, who will find their politics circumscribed by Israel’s, and Palestinians, for whom any normalization of Israel’s role and position in the region and the world is a normalization of occupation and oppression that shows no sign of ending,” The Electronic Intifada’s Omar Karmi has commented.

Climate betrayal

In addition to the human rights harm the EU is doing by bringing Israel into its energy infrastructure, the BNC points out that the 28-member bloc is also betraying its commitments to fight climate change by continuing to make massive investments in fossil fuel infrastructure.

The BNC is urging the EU and the governments of Greece and Cyprus to scrap the EuroAsia Interconnector, cancel a feasibility study for a planned Eastern Mediterranean gas pipeline and warn companies and investors of the legal, economic and security risks involved.

Given the history of EU support for Israel’s violations of international law, it will likely be up to campaigners in Europe to apply pressure on companies and other stakeholders to end their complicity.




If Germany, my home country, supports the EU plan to provide energy to Israeli settlements is is in violation of international law. It pains me to see Germany as being a bootlicker of criminal enterprises such as Israel and the US. I am in full support of BDS'ing the apartheid state. I am angry and frustrated over my county's shameful rule as backer of the Zionist killing, maiming and land-stealing machine. I feel like shredding my German passport.


I agree with your comment. It is unbelieable how deep Germany is sinking with this decision. My grandfather is Jewish - he is turning in his grave now. He never ever would have supported Zionists.


The UN killed Palestine. They have whined and pretended that they are unable to stop Israel because the US won't let them. The US blatantly blackmails the UN with threats to take away the money, and they did! But this was just another pretense of the UN that their hands are tied and when evidence of Israeli war crimes are too horrible to ignore, Mr Guiterrez whines how the Palestinians need to come to the "Peace" talks. BUT MR GUITERREZ knows that these are " THE REST IN PEACE TALK, PALESTINE BECAUSE YOU ARE DEAD. Thanks to the UN which killed you.


It's nice to see Natixis participating in impressive projects. They were a client of mine a long long time ago, and their commitment to renewable and green-infrastructure project-finance is beggars one to question your sub-heading "Climate Betrayal", followed by the citation "...the 28-member bloc is also betraying its commitments to fight climate change by continuing to make massive investments in fossil fuel infrastructure."

This statement is an allegation without any evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that validates it. Could you please provide more information about this?


Mark, the article you criticize, helpfully linked to a BDS statement:

"Natural gas is a fossil fuel composed of methane, which is 86 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas than CO2. With this massive investment, the EU is locking its dependence on fossil fuel for decades to come."


the entire planet is hooked-on fossil fuels for decades to come. Hopefully less time, but not for now, it's all we have. Natural-gas if far cleaner and efficient than other fossil-fuels. I am not advocating for natural-gas, or any other fuel as such, but I don't understand the point being made as far as a "Climate betrayal"; that part doesn't make sense.


Dream on. I'm afraid there will always be "EU" money and electricity and anything Israel wants - even, eventually, at the expense of ourselves.


Would be helpful if EI would publish an article of people in companies to contact about this, and other organizing recommendations that ordinary people could support. Just what the hell is the EU doing...besides being willingly, patently hypocritical?


I can't begin to tell you how disappointed I am in Alexis Tsipras.
I had high hopes for SYRIZA & especially Yanis Varoufakis & Tsipras.
Sometimes life gives you the ball.
The odds that they were ever going to take office were ZERO.
Varoufakis is a big believer in destiny - or so he says.
And they fell into a conservative line uniquely their own - like good little boys.


How can the European Union, of which I am a Citizen of, agree to a deal like this? Supplying Israel with electricity and at the same time denying Palestinians basic Human Rights? You all must feel very very guilty in your blue suits? You know, my grandfather was Jewish and I would not give a cup of water to Israel/Zionists. Have you no shame at all?

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Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.