The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Israel and Lebanon have reached an agreement that will allow for Israel to drill for natural gas in a disputed area and export gas to Europe.
“The agreement would allow Israel to quickly follow through on its commitment to sell gas to the European Union, which is searching for new energy sources following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on Moscow,” the Journal reported. The arrangement must still be approved by both governments.
The United States brokered the deal, which is remarkable considering Israel and Lebanon have gone to war against each other twice and still do not have diplomatic ties.
President Biden heaped praise on the historic arrangement.
“The agreement announced by both governments today will provide for the development of energy fields for the benefit of both countries, setting the stage for a more stable and prosperous region, and harnessing vital new energy resources for the world,” Biden said in a statement.
Does the White House see the irony here?
The U.S. can broker a deal between two historic enemies in the volatile Middle East to produce and ship natural gas. Meanwhile, the Mountain Valley Pipeline that would transport gas from West Virginia to Virginia sits unfinished, bogged down in a regulatory and legal morass, and the Keystone XL Pipeline is on the scrap heap after years of protests and legal battles.
The irony extends to this administration’s desperate attempts to convince Saudi Arabia to produce more oil. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomed Biden with a fist bump then delivered a humiliating gut punch when OPEC+ countries cut production by two-million barrels a day.
That sent Biden and Congressional Democrats into fits of pique, which grabbed a few headlines, but changed nothing. “Certainly they (the Saudis) don’t give a damn about pressure from Biden, and they don’t feel beholden to the Biden administration for anything,” David Ottaway, Middle East fellow at the Wilson Center think tank, told the Journal.
Next up? Try Venezuela. Their economy is a disaster because of corruption, failed socialist policies and U.S. sanctions. They are probably desperate to do a deal. The Journal reports the U.S. is “preparing to scale down sanctions” if Chevron can resume pumping oil.
It is bad enough to be openly hostile toward domestic fossil fuel production, but now mix in the duplicitousness of brokering natural gas deals outside the U.S., while showing up, hat-in-hand, at the doorsteps of other countries begging for oil. These circumstances would be cartoonish if they were not so serious.
Now that U.S. diplomats have brokered the historic energy deal between Israel and Lebanon, they can take on an even tougher assignment—negotiating a coherent energy policy for the United States.