Boehner and Netanyahu’s attempt to undermine Obama concerning the Iran negotiations

On top of the extremely sensitive official negotiations with Iran, internal U.S. political forces have broken up and the Israeli Prime Minister has become involved to make the nuclear issue with Iran even more complex.

President Barack Obama with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office in October 1, 2014  (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office in October 1, 2014 (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

On January 21, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner announced that he invited the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of the Congress on March 3 that will deal with nuclear negotiations with Iran. Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran affirms that its nuclear program is only to produce energy for civilian use. Iran and the U.S. try to find a final deal by June 2015 in order to prevent that this nuclear issue results in a war. Indeed, Obama at a joint press conference with David Cameron at the White House on January 16 declared: “if this diplomatic solution fails, then the risks and likelihood that this ends up being at some point a military confrontation is heightened”.

Obama, in his State of the Union’s speech declared that “New sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails […] That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress”. At the contrary, Netanyahu supports the Republican’s proposal to put sanctions on Iran. Obama has often disagreed with Netanyahu concerning Iran and Netanyahu will once again attempt to undermine the American President. In May 2011 he publicly criticized Obama during a speech to the Congress, also organized by the Republicans. Furthermore, Netanyahu supports the Republican candidates against Obama, such as during the 2012 elections when he supported Mitt Romney. He will probably also support the Republicans during the presidential elections in 2016.

Netanyahu will not meet the President during his visit because the White House refuses to receive foreign leaders before their elections and Netanyahu’s visit is only two weeks before Israeli’s legislative election. Netanyahu’s speech in front of the Congress may be perceived as an election speech. According to the Guardian, Netanyahu told his cabinet: “As Prime Minister of Israel, I am obligated to make every effort to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weaponry that will be aimed at the state of Israel.” However, it is also a very risky political strategy for the Prime Minister because it could damage Israel’s relationship with the U.S. that is Israel’s most important ally and it can finally lead to an opposite result for his elections.

Boehner invited Netanyahu without informing the Obama administration. It represents a breach of protocol since the foreign policy is supposed to be made only by the President and not by the Congress. Indeed, it would mean that there are two US foreign policies and it would be extremely confusing for foreign States which could misunderstand which of the two institutions is actually making the foreign policy. Moreover, a U.S. political party siding with a foreign country over its own President denotes a major break-up with the usual approach of the international relations.

Why not now, Israel?

Following the American officials’ plan, John R. Allen, former American commander in Afghanistan and a retired Marine general who serves as an adviser to Secretary of John Kerry on the Middle East peace talks, will present to the Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ideas about security arrangements on the West Bank under a possible peace agreement with the Palestinians. This presentation is to be made on Thursday, 5.

This briefing must be provided when Mr. Kerry meets with Mr. Netanyahu, according to officials. This will be the first time that General Allen discusses his ideas that were developed after multiple trips to Israel, in consultation with officials of Israel.

“Ongoing process”: this is how State Department officials describe the security briefing.

US Marine Gen. John Allen shakes hands with US President Barack Obama at an event in the East Room of the White House, April 28, 2011. (photo by REUTERS/Larry Downing)

US Marine Gen. John Allen shakes hands with US President Barack Obama at an event in the East Room of the White House, April 28, 2011. (photo by REUTERS/Larry Downing)

Some of the ideas that General Allen will present has already been shared with Mr. Netanyahu by Mr. Kerry, according to the officials that are accompanying the secretary of state.

The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said to diplomats that they needed to put more pressure on Israel to keep on going on this project of peace, as the negotiators make baby steps toward an agreement.

According to Mr. Erekat, Israel has demolished 159 Palestinian homes, killed 23 Palestinians and hasn’t given up on constructing 5,992 new apartments in West Bank settlements.

Although, Israel has insisted that its own military retain patrols there. According to him, this way is better than rely on an international force similar to those responsible for its tense borders with Lebanon and Syria.

As Erekat said to the diplomats, the Palestinians could never accede to Israel’s demand – to recognize it as the nation-state of the Jewish people. He said:  “I cannot change my narrative. The essence of peace is not to convert each other’s stories.”

After arranging the resumption of peace talks in July, Kerry said he expected to close a deal in nine months, what means that this closure should happen in 4 months. John Kerry will probably stay in Israel until Friday, and on Thursday he’ll also meet with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.

“DEAL”. Submitted on Sunday 24th, 2.04 a.m.

“DEAL”. Those four letters made the difference at 2.04 a.m. Sunday at Genevra, Switzerland.  After months of diplomatic work since the election of the relative moderate Hassan Rouhani as Iranian President in June, Iran and six powerful countries of the world finally have come to an agreement.

The deal consists on Iran halting their actions to obtain nuclear weapons while those six countries (USA, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China) will relieveNuclear deal some economical sanctions. The point is that Iran can’t have uranium enriched beyond 5%, which means that they have to dilute the 20% uranium they have. In scientific terms, that didn’t seem to be a great avance, because the most difficult thing is to enriched it to 5%, which is still allowed in this arrangement. 

Of course, apart of the peace reasons there are some business interests involve. The nuclear deal will allow the country to export more crude oil as it will make its transportation less expensive, which is interesting for both sides Iran and the global powers.

Despite almost the whole international community accepts this deal as a first step to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons, Israel thinks that it’s a threat for them. “Israel has many friends and allies, but when they’re mistaken, it is my duty to speak out… the regime in Iran is committed to destroying Israel. And Israel has the right and the obligation to defend itself by itself from any threat.” said the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

“Ultimately, we understand why Israel is particularly skeptical about Iran. […] This is not simply about trusting the Iranian government. There are strict verification measures.” A senior administration official said. This governments are aware that Israel has some point of reason while being suspicious and they will be apply control measures.

The Iranian Foreign Minister, Zarif, said he hopes the nuclear agreement will lead to “concrete steps” to improve relations between Iran and Western powers.” as iranian population are taking this agreement as a huge step towards peace and open-doors.

Now we have six months of trial and during this time experts will have a exhaustive revision of the Iranian nuclear materials and processes. Despite of the fact that this while issue had been treated by some parts of the society as an Obama victory, Obama himself had said that this is just a first step in a long way that will be difficult and full of obstacles. As Bill Nelson said: “It is a choice between a pause or imminent war. I choose a verifiable pause.”

Sam Stein

UNESCO: Voting For Values

“UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development encompassing observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty”. That’s how the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization defines itself: besides all the natural and cultural beauty that they take under protection, they also involve in some social issues such as human rights and development of societies.

 After not paying their dues for two years, last Friday both the United States and Israel lost their right to vote in UNESCO. The reason behind this payment crisis was that UNESCO made Palestine a full member of the association in 2011. So because of the problematic relations between Israel and Palestine, these two major countries had have been protesting the association by not contributing financially.

This decision of not paying their dues, took the Obama administration by surprise too because it is due to two laws signed in the 90’s by President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton that entails an end of U.S. payments to any United Nations association  that recognizes Palestine as a full member.

For UNESCO this is a big amount of money loss -the 22 percent of their total income-, which has caused reduced-initiatives, frozen-hiring and canceled-programs. Of course, Israel’s contribution represents the 3 percent, which is not that little too. Nevertheless the economical struggles that they would have without these two important countries, UNESCO has not changed its policy or made an exception for Israel and the U.S.

“I believe all of our work to protect human rights and dignity as the basis for lasting peace and sustainable development is shared by the American people […] I will continue to work for the universality of this Organization, for the support of the United States, to the values we share, to the objectives we hold in common, of an effective multilateral order and a more peaceful, more just world.” Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the Loss of Voting Rights

The main point here is that UNESCO is an association that promotes the basic building blocks of our civilization, issues that affects every society. But it seems that in the case of U.S. and Israel, these countries political affairs are getting ahead the association’s main aims.

So while some voices in the U.S. agree with the non-paying policy by saying that “UNESCO is interfering with the prospects for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”, other voices –including Obama’s– said that UNESCO duties are related to world heritage development, which includes equality for all societies.

By regarding that powerful countries have the huge impact over these kind of socially responsible associations, the words of Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO,  aren’t  surprising :“This is not only about financing. This is about values”.

 

Changing the strategy regarding Iran

Courtesy of

Courtesy of Nashdown 

 

As Iran’s uranium enrichment policies continue, the focus of the international community now falls on the limited diplomatic possibilities of the U.S. government. The relationship between the U.S. and Teheran has a long history of political and military disagreements that have reached new heights recently because of an alarming report of the IAEA regarding Iran’s nuclear activity. This relationship was affected negatively even further as the U.S. pushed resolution 1929 through the U.N. Security Council in June 2010.

The resolution deals with the sixth round of sanctions against Iran, banning further development or exploitation of uranium technologies or intercontinental ballistic missile technologies. Also, a new inspection regime is imposed to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring banned technologies by increasing the number of inspections on Iranian ships suspected of smuggling. Lastly, a new round of financial sanctions was imposed which culminated with freezing assets of Iranian companies that could fund the proliferation effort.

As the U.S. continues to use its military and international position as leverage to try and force Iran into giving up its nuclear program, perhaps it is time Washington reconsidered its position and options. Threats including military intervention are effective if they are backed by the political willingness to start a war. Of course, when discussing war, the costs have to be smaller than the gains. If we consider factors like: the American military involvement around the world, the state of their economy and their declining international image, one can argue that the U.S. cannot afford to fight another war. Thus the threats of military intervention against Iran seem empty.

This leaves the Washington government with a more risky alternative: deterrence. The U.S. could allow Tehran to pursue its nuclear programs and then deter the ensuing result just as it did with the USSR in 1962. Threatening Iran with the use nuclear weapons before acquiring such weapons would ruin the image of the U.S. However, once the Islamic Republic creates a nuclear weapon, nuclear threats from the U.S would be justified. These threats could be more effective considering the big difference in capabilities between the U.S. and Iran. Also the US has mentioned that a nuclear-armed Iran would not pose a fundamental threat to the United States and its regional allies like Israel and the Gulf Arab monarchies. Also, if the threat becomes substantial, the US will have to deter and eliminate all nuclear elements and facilities to prevent a catastrophe in the region.

Using more carrots than sticks could prove more useful and efficient for the U.S. The sanctions that impoverish the declining economy of Iran should be used as a bargaining chip to bring the nuclear, deterred country into a treaty that will ensure the permanent security of the region. Also they should be used to improve the cooperation between the Islamic Republic and some U.S. allies in the region hoping that a more integrated Iranian economy dependent on neighboring states will make the Tehran government reconsider its position.

Interview with Mr. Musa Amer Odeh, the chief of the diplomatic mission of Palestine in Spain.

Mr. Musa Amer Odeh is the ambassador of Palestine in Spain; he has been Palestinian ambassador in many other places, such as Nicaragua, Brazil or Philippines. He was born on Doura-Hebron the 20th January 1947 and had studied in Jordan and Syria. He can speak Arab, English and Portuguese. This interview was made the morning of 10th May 2012 on the Palestinian Embassy in Madrid.

I decided to sent an e-mail to the Palestinian embassy in Madrid to arrange an interview because I am very interested on this issue; they answer me fastly and they offer me the great opportunity to interview the ambassador who answer all my questions without fear. He explains me the conflict and the situation in which are living most of the Palestinians but he also told me some anecdotes which help us to put a human face on that conflict that last too much time and that sometimes seems far away from us.Image

Víctor Corvera Descalzo: How would you understand the possible influence of the recent revolutions of the Arab World, the Arab spring, can have on the geopolitical situation on Middle East?

Musa Amer Odeh: Sure, we are part of the region and everything that happen will affect our situation but why the Arabs are moving for democracy is for the benefit of our people to have a democratic system in the Arab world. We used to receive support form regimes controlled by one person or a group of people, now we will have a democratic regime of Arab people, and those will support a lot to Palestine; so we are not afraid about what is happening in the Arab world, but Israel is unfortunately till now not treating correctly this, it is a deep change, an important one and there is an opportunity that Israel is loosing to have peace with us, because we are their neighbours, they are our neighbours and we must find how to live together they on their state we on our state, but the main question is that the occupation must finish, must have an end to be equal state-to-state.

Víctor Corvera Descalzo: About the situation on Gaza par example, is there any influence of those revolutions? Because it’s in the border with Egypt.

Musa Amer Odeh: Ehm… no, we have an internal in Palestine because we are divided. People in Gaza under the control of Hamas and people in the West Bank under the control of the PLO, but we are in are having now reconciliation between Hamas and the PLO, in order to be united to archive peace in our region. About the changes in Egypt we must understand those changes serve also the interest of Palestinian people.

Víctor Corvera Descalzo: Turkey had suspended their military treaties with Israel because of the incident of the attack against the “Freedom fleet” that carry humanitarian help to Gaza on 2010 and the overthrow of leaders as the Egypt’s one, Mubarak. Had suppose that Israel is waging more “aggressive” and less permissive politics against Palestinian population, per example the recent order to build new settlements on West Bank?

Musa Amer Odeh: Well, I think that Israel is responsible of loosing an allied like Turkey, which is an important allied in the zone, a very important Muslim country; but they are also loosing also Egypt because of their wrong policy. You can not be a continued occupying power an to look for normal relations with your neighbours. The leaders ofIsrael must realise that the interest ofIsrael remains on maintain peace with the Palestinians and with the Arabs, unfortunately they don’t. They have the military power, they have the support from the USA and they can’t continue like this. So for us Israel is not a democracy, because we understand that democratic countries can not controlle the lives of another people, confiscate the rights of another people. Second we think that they are not a democratic country because there is a discrimination against the Arab, that are 20% of their citizens. There is discrimination; you can go to the report of the European Council Generals in Jerusalem where they have a report of this year about the discriminations of Arabs inIsrael. And we must also remember thatIsrael is the only nuclear power in the zone, which attempts against stability in the region. Now they are calling all countries to wage a war against Iran whom they don’t have yet nuclear weapons, Israel already had them. So I don’t know how they understand that they have the right to have Nuclear Weapons and Arabs don’t have it. For us, Palestinians, we are in favour of a Middle East clear of Nuclear Weapons. We don’t want Israel to have nuclear weapons, we don’t want Iran to have Nuclear Weapons, we don’t want any country to have Nuclear Weapons. We need Middle East clean of Nuclear Weapons.

Víctor Corvera Descalzo: About the international recognition, after the entry of Palestine as a member of UNESCO the last year, 2011. What will be the next step to follow?

Musa Amer Odeh: We had our application for a UN member in the Security Council, because it need to pass through this. In the Security Council, the five permanents members have right of veto and the USA till now they don’t want us to be member of the UN, violating their own principals regarding the right of self-determination for people like the Palestinian people.

Now, we are planning to go to the UN again, to the General Assembly where there is no veto for anyone. So we can got a number of states as the Vatican now or Switzerland ten years ago, and we will continue asking as a full-membership in the UN based on the rules of the rules of UN. It’s our goal to be free and to end wit the exile and the occupation. Unfortunately Israel claims that we are trying to delegitimize Israel, which is not true, we only try to delegitimize the occupation of Israel. Because we are willing to live with Israel side by side, they in their state, we in our state.

They said that it’s an unilateral state by the Palestinians, it’s not unilateral to go to address 193 countries in the UN. The unilateral thing is the Israeli policy, building settlements in our territory, building walls in the heart of our territory, confiscating lands n our territories and making Jerusalem a Jewish city which is not, because it had the three religions (Christians, Muslims and Jewish). It can’t be a Jewish city, it’s a multi-religion city.

So the Israelis don’t want us to fight for our rights, they don’t want us to go to the UN, they don’t want us to go to the UNESCO. What is the danger against Israel when we got a membership in the UNESCO? UNESCO is for culture, is a peaceful organization of the UN. Israelis don’t want any kind of identity for Palestinians, but there is a determination from the Palestinian side to continue our struggle, a peaceful struggle, to have our rights, to have our independence, to establish an independent Palestinian state because when the UN decided to divide Palestine into two states in 1947 with the resolution 181. They had planed two states Israel with the 56% of this territory and the State of Palestine which had the 44% of the territory, but in 1948 Israelis they established a state on the 78% of the territory, so they occupied from the beginning half of the area which was kept for us from the UN. And now they are not willing to keep us the rest which is 22%, they don’t want because they are building settlements, they are building walls and they are confiscating our water. They are controlling 84% of our water and they are selling us our water at the highest price of water on Earth. We are buying our water, so it’s unfair. And there is a responsibility for the international community to put an end for this unfair situation in the Holy Land.

We, Palestinians, deserve to be free, we had the highest level of education in our region, so we are qualified to have a modern state, a democratic one and to participate on building the future on the coming generations.

The occupation is a problem for Palestinians to build their economy and to build their future, cause if we want to export or import anything we need the permission ofIsrael. Our President, elected for the people, if he wants to move for city to city in Palestinehe needs the permission of Israelis. It’s not fair and it’s inhuman, and it’s a humiliation for our people.

And in the occupied territories which are so small, around 5.000 km2, there are more than 600 military checkpoints, in the heart of our territory, not in the borders between us and Israel, between the Palestinian cities and it made the live of Palestinians a hell.

It’s not easy for you, Europeans, imagine the suffering of the Palestinian people under the occupation; can you imagine that a pregnant woman come form a village to the hospital in the city, they stopped her on the check point for one hour, two hours… so more than ninety times they deliver their babies on the military checkpoints, because they were not allowed to go to the hospital. And imagine that Palestine is like Spain, in winter is very cold, low cero sometimes, and in summer is hot; imagine a lady put deliver her baby on the Israeli check point in front of hundreds of people waiting to pass. Many times ladies die or their babies die. What kind of danger for Israel’s security can be a pregnant woman bleeding? It’s only a humiliation for our people, we will never accept this, and we will continue our struggle, peaceful struggle, to achieve our goal which is peace, the greatest goal on Earth. To reach our objective we need the support of the International Community, to reach justice and peace, but not only for our people, also for our neighbours, including the Israelis, and for the humanity at large.

We need our rights, we are the last country under occupation and this occupation must have an end.

Víctor Corvera Descalzo: Knowing the position of the US of America about the entry of Palestine on the UNESCO, they are against the participation of Palestine on the UN’s institutions. What strategies do you consider corrects to avoid a possible veto on the Security Council of the UN?

Musa Amer Odeh: Why? We can ask ourselves: Why are they opposing the rights of Palestinians to be members of the UNESCO? We have historic places for the humanity and they need the protection of the UN. Why any other country have the right to be a state and Palestine don’t have? Why the USA have the right to be a member of the UNESCO and Palestine don’t have? The USA only have 300 years and we have more than 10000 years, we have Jericho which birth last year 10000 years of habited live, the most ancient city on Earth in Palestine.

So why? Why are they opposing? Why are they punishing the people? Why are the punishing the UNESCO, because the had cut their money to the UNESCO? Because Palestine became a member, not through a war, through voting, in a democratic way.

Why if they believe in democracy are they opposing democracy here? The UNESCO voted for our membership. So it’s very strange, I know that if there are elections on the USA they hesitate to take any action that the Israelis wouldn’t accept, because there is an Israeli lobby, a very strong one, and the candidates looks for the votes and the money of this lobby, but we don’t have any kind of interest to confront the US, they are a superpower and we are a small country, we are just looking for our freedom, but we will not accept their double-standard policy about Palestine.

Imagine, If China violate, according the understanding of the USA, the right of one citizen; they immediately create a cause against China, a great cause. But when the came to Israel which is violating our simple rights, they don’t do anything. They are protecting the occupation, the Israeli aggression. They are violating their own principles.

Self-determination is a fundamental right for the people, and they are excluding us, we suppose to be part of the international community and self-determination must work on the Palestinian quiz. So they should let us to decide, and to the International Community to decide, not using the veto. It’s not fair. And also they have the responsibility to take care about stability and peace on the world as a superpower, and in this case they are against this principal, unfortunately.

Víctor Corvera Descalzo: Since some years ago, an International campaign against Israel had been waged because of different politics that there are developing on the zone, as the building of a wall in the West Bank and the construction of new settlements of that zone. The great controversy generated by those issues hadn’t archive to stop any of the measures, although they suppose a violation of the “Route Sheet”). Why all that international pressure couldn’t change the things?

Musa Amer Odeh: Well, they had the right to build the wall around the West Bank if they want, although we don’t need walls we need bridges; but they are building it in the heart of the West Bank, on the goal on confiscating more land and to confiscate all Palestinian water sources, as I said we buy our water from the Israelis at the highest price on Earth. So the international community agree with us, they support us, but unfortunately we had the veto of the USA against us and it made the things so difficult for us.

Víctor Corvera Descalzo:  Nowadays the Palestinian political prisoners are waging a hunger strike. What is the position of the National Palestinian Authority (NPA) about that?

Musa Amer Odeh: Well, It’s our duty to protect the rights of Palestinians, because the Israelis putting those people on jail, they are violating the UN’s resolutions and the UN Charter because you can put anyone in jail for ten years without accusing me of something; this is happening now in Palestine, and it’s a violation of our rights. Israel is the only country where the torture is legalized,Israel had passed in their parliament many laws in the last years which discriminate the Arabs inside Israel, I don’t know how the International Community allows this to happen. It’s a shame that they allow it to happen, becauseIsrael still the only country about the rule, by the protection of a superpower. Par example when Iraq occupy Kuwait, theUSA send their troops with the International Community to liberate Kuwait from Iraq, and then some years later the create another war against Iraq because they said that there were Weapons of Massive Destruction in Iraq. In the case of Israel, Israel is occupying Palestine for 64 years and Israel had nuclear weapons since 1956; we are not asking none about create a war against Israel but we want to ask Israel to comply and to respect the UN’s resolutions and if the don’t do it the International Community must take measures, they can put restrictions to their economy as the International Community had done to the apartheid regime of South Africa before, no one send the troops to South Africa, but thanks to the solidarity of the International Community and the struggle of the South African people, the apartheid collapse, and the apartheid Israeli regime must collapse too.

So for us there is nothing against the creation ofIsrael, we already recognize them as a State but at the same time we want to be members of the UN, we want to be free of the Israeli occupation

Víctor Corvera Descalzo: Do you know the opinion of the Arab-Israeli parties with representation on the Israeli parliament (Knesset) (T’Al, Hadash y Balad) about this hunger strike?

Musa Amer Odeh: There are 20% of the population of Israel, and nowadays Israel don’t accept them, because Israel came to them, they are the indigenous people of Palestine. They have their representatives in the parliament but also the representatives are discriminated. If you see the Arab areas of Israel you will see that the development in the Arab zones and in the Jewish zones is very different, both pay the same taxes but Arabs had fewer services than Israelis.

Let’s put an example, the city of Nazareth, there are hundreds of Palestinians there, and the Israelis ha created “High Nazareth”, a new one; and you can see the differences, you can see which settlement is supported by the government and which not although the Arabs pay taxes like the others. It’s also easy to see the difference between West and East Jerusalem, although it violates some UN’s resolutions, it’s like East Berlin and West Berlin years ago. But the Israelis had annex Jerusalem to Israel violating the international rules but they still treating the East part like a part of the third world. So this is a huge discrimination, discrimination sometimes by law, I don’t know how the international community can accept this; only Israel impose this measures and they have a very important lobby in the USA. Some European Countries they believe the story because the have a dark history with the Jewish people in Europe, so the Arabs inside Israel, they suffer discrimination. You can see that there is democracy and that they are in the parliament; ok… they are in the parliament because they have the right to be there but it’s not from the Israelis kindness, it’s because they are citizens and Israel must be a State for all citizens, not only for the Jewish, for all, Greeks and Muslims too, but nowadays it’s not like that, Muslims are discriminated about the jobs and also in the University, but there is even discrimination between the Jewish. It’s unfair, and we are on the XXI century.

 

Madrid, 10th May 2012

Israel loses friends in East Asia

The state Egyptian natural gas company EGAS has cancelled gas supplies to Israel, acting thus in discordance to the 2005 political agreement signed between Egypt and Israel. Why is Egypt isolating Israel?

 Israel has lost a big quantity of gas supplies owe to that the East Mediterranean Gas just broke an agreement, made in 2005, regarding this issue. That year the EMG signed a deal with IEC –Israel Electric Corporation– of 2.500 million dollars (about 1.891 million Euros), in which Cairo promised to give 7.000 million cubic meter of Egyptian gas to the Israeli market, representing natural gas supply for 15 years, with changes accepted.

The news on this split-up gas supply has dropped as a bomb on Israeli news agencies. Several Israeli analysts consider that this cut of energy supply is due to an Egyptian political and economic instability.

Some Israeli politicians express a “defensive” point of view with the purpose of calming the world’s audience, fearing of further disputes between the two countries: “The unilateral cancellation of the agreement is not a good sign. And we hope that this dispute is resolved like any other commercial disputes, without having a political consequences” said the Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman during his visit in Azerbaijan. This argument is echoed by Israeli prime minister, who states that this is a commercial matter, as well as by the chairman of Egyptian company EGAS, Mohamed Shoeib: “It is a trade dispute not a political issue”. But how can we know that this issue is kept only under commercial terms?

There have been numerous sabotages and attacks, more precisely 14, in the last year. Attacks directed at the pipelines from Egypt to Israel by protest groups, which demonstrated against a supposed Israeli “political marginalization”. The head of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company mentioned that the contract terminated hence Israel’s violations of contractual obligations, a statement considered as an overshadow of the peace agreement between the two countries. Security means had to be reinforced as a consequence of the conflict emerged between the two nations.

Until now, Israel has made great profit of energetic agreements made with Egypt; the country received a 40% of their energy consumption for their own use. During almost 7 years, since the natural gas deal, Israel made a great profit from Egypt’s energetic supplies. This period of time coincides with the Mubarak era. But since last Thursday, the 19th of April 2012, the 15-years planned pact broke in a brusque way.

This concern mainly implies peaceful principles withIsraelthat have been ignored. The 2005 signed agreement acted as a symbol of Egyptian-Israeli good relations, which is of great relevancy bearing in mind that Egypt is the only country, together with Jordan, that has signed a peace treaty with Israel (in 1979, followed by Jordan in 1994). Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz declared that the suspension of energetic supply was of “great concern”, arguing that it had placed “a dangerous precedent which casts a shadow on the peace agreements and the peaceful atmosphere betweenEgyptandIsrael”.

Israelis losing friends inEast Asia. Since the 1950s,Israel’s foreign policy had received strategic depth from regional alliances. The Egyptian cut on energetic supply will entail thatIsraelfinds it difficult to find countries to rely on in this region. Last year, Israel watched its alliance with Turkey collapse. Diplomatic relations with theUnited Statesare too weak andAmericais far away in geographical terms, which entails bad cooperation techniques in this manner. From now on, it will be hard for Israel to trust an Egyptian government currently damaged by internal conflicts. The evaporation of power of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s government, which is in a way definitely a positive change, leaves Israel in a state of strategic trouble. WithoutMubarak,Israelis left with almost no friends in theMiddle East.

But, as Sancho Panza says in the Chapter X of the Second Part of “Don Quijote de la Mancha”, “there is a solution for everything, if not death, under whose yoke we will lie all at the end of our lives”; and there is also prompted alternative for Israel’s alliances in East Asia: “From the Egypt’s point of view there are no objections to reaching a new agreement with new conditions and a new price”, as the Minister for International Cooperation Fayza Abul Naga told reporters.

Angela Gutierres Moreno,
Danira Milosevic,
Linn Andersson &
Jesus Alcantara Landa