The nation of Israel is sitting on one of the largest natural gas deposits in the world and has started to harness and export the valuable fuel. A financial analyst is saying it's a boon to the country now – but could easily turn into a blight.
The three or four offshore fields were discovered about a decade ago, and now Israel has become an energy exporter in a region chock-full of energy-producing countries. About a year ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it's a strategic and political tool as well as a moneymaker:
Netanyahu: "We think that this will open up new energy opportunities for Europe. It's important for the security of Europe; it's important for our respective economies; it's important also for the anchoring of additional regional cooperation."
Dan Celia with Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries suggests Israel could have some trouble finding steady customers for its newfound resource. He expects the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement will keep some customers away, and Israel's Arab neighbors – initially receptive to Israeli energy – he says will make inconsistent customers at best, for obvious reasons.
"My fear is that Israel is going to embrace this a little bit quicker than they should, of some of the Arab/Islamic world, and … I hope they're not looking for anything other than economics," he states.
In fact, Celia says Israel's new wealth puts the country in some danger. "The economic peace or the economic windfall that it's going to mean for Israel is going to create another reason for their enemies to envy and despise the Jewish people," he tells OneNewsNow.
More interesting to Celia, though, is what this might mean in a spiritual sense. The Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy talks about "draw[ing] out the abundance of the seas, and the hidden treasures of the sand."
"I think this absolutely could – I'm not saying it does – I think it absolutely could be a part of the beginning of what could have been prophesized," he concludes.
The head of a Messianic Jewish ministry sounds more sure about that than does Celia. Jan Markell, founder of Olive Tree Ministries, says the existence of massive natural gas fields off the coast of Israel could hasten the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
"The Bible indicates that there are going to be increasing blessings in the land," she tells OneNewsNow. "But I think the one thing that's been lacking in Israel, at least, hasn't been discovered until more recent years: the natural gas discovery in the last 10 to 15 years has been staggering by way of the quantity that's been available."
The ministry leader says her mind goes to chapters 38 and 39 of the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel, which prophesies an end-time invasion of Israel.
"It's called the battle of Gog and Magog – and these invaders are going to be invading Israel to seize her wealth, the wealth of her natural gas. And now we find that there's even more natural gas. Personally, I think this [latest discovery] is going to prompt this invasion to happen, possibly soon," she adds.
According to The Associated Press, in the coming months Israel will begin exporting gas to Egypt as part of a $15 billion deal signed last year to provide 64 billion cubic meters of gas over a 10-year period that will help turn Egypt into a regional energy hub. Israel's energy minister describes it as "the most significant economic cooperation between Egypt and Israel since the signing of the peace treaty 40 years ago."
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1/25/2019 - Comments from Jan Markell added to story.