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In fresh defiance of Obama, Israeli gov’t approves oil-drilling in occupied Golan

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Jim Lobe reports at InterPress on another provocation from Israel, in league with American rightwingers. One of the investors in this drilling project, Michael Steinhardt, has denied that there is an occupation, denied there is a Palestinian people. And the company is headed by Effi Eitam, a hawkish former Israeli Cabinet minister. Lobe:

In a potential new source of contention between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has reportedly granted a U.S. energy firm with heavyweight political connections to explore for oil and gas in the occupied Golan Heights.

The company is a local subsidiary of New Jersey-based Genie Energy Ltd. The Strategic Advisory Board of another subsidiary, Genie Oil and Gas, includes former Vice President Dick Cheney, media magnate Rupert Murdoch, and former Republican Rep. Jim Courter.

It also includes several prominent investment managers, such as Jacob Rothschild, chairman of the J. Rothschild group, and Michael Steinhardt, a major contributor to Jewish and Zionist causes, notably Birthright Israel, a multi-million-dollar programme to bring young Diaspora Jews to Israel….

The granting of the licence by Israel’s Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, which was initially reported by Dow Jones Thursday, comes amidst continuing civil war in Syria, which has demanded the return of the Heights since Israel took them in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

It also comes a month before Obama is scheduled to make his first visit to Israel as president.

Some analysts here compared the move to previous announcements by the Netanyahu government of new settlement construction on the West Bank or East Jerusalem — either on the eve of or during meetings with top U.S. officials – that have clearly contributed to thinly veiled tensions that exist between the two leaders.

The administration remained tight-lipped about the move Friday, confining itself only to issuing a terse statement by the State Department acknowledging the press reports about the licence.

“We intend to discuss this issue with the Israeli Government,” it said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this is part of Netanyahu’s plan to put additional pressure on the U.S., as he’s done with President Obama in the past,” Charles Ebinger, an energy and Middle expert at the Brookings Institutions, told IPS. “He keeps changing the facts on the ground through expansion of settlements and now this on the Golan.

More on Eitam: He has called Arabs in Israel and the West Bank a ticking time bomb and anticipated a regional war in which Israel is compelled to expel Palestinians to the east side of the Jordan River. He also doesn’t believe in an occupation. Disturbing.

Philip Weiss

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25 Responses

  1. flyod on February 23, 2013, 1:22 pm

    what defiance. obama won’t say a word.

  2. Bumblebye on February 23, 2013, 1:35 pm

    From Craig Murray t’other day:

    “For Israel to seek to exploit mineral reserves in the occupied Golan Heights is plainly illegal in international law. Japan was succesfully sued by Singapore before the International Court of Justice for exploitation of Singapore’s oil resources during the second world war. The argument has been made in international law that an occupying power is entitled to opeate oil wells which were previously functioning and operated by the sovereign power, in whose position the occupying power now stands. But there is absolutely no disagreement in the authorities and case law that the drilling of new wells – let alone fracking – by an occupying power is illegal.

    Israel tried to make the same move twenty years ago but was forced to back down after a strong reaction from the Syrian government, which gained diplomatic support from the United States. Israel is now seeking to take advantage of the weakened Syrian state; this move perhaps casts a new light on recent Israeli bombings in Syria.”

    “In a rational world, the involvement of Rothschild and Murdoch in this international criminal activity would show them not to be fit and proper persons to hold major commercial interests elsewhere, and action would be taken. Naturally, nothing of the kind will happen.”

    • Abierno on February 23, 2013, 3:40 pm

      This also needs to be interpreted in context with Netanyahu’s most recent demand for NATO intervention on behalf of the Syrian “rebels”, his proposed move to add a 10 to 20 mile “security” buffer between the Golan boundary and
      Syria and to significantly elevate sanctions against Syria. More recent political
      comments would suggest that the Syrians themselves strongly prefer Assad to
      the ragtag “revolutionaries” who represent a claque of poorly organized jihadi,
      from both the middle east and Europe who are funded by a variety of state and,
      most probably, non state actors such as the above who stand to benefit handsomely from the bloody chaos in Syria. It is not surprising that this unstable country has been the site of several targeted assassinations, all benefiting Israel.
      And what role is Mossad playing in this regime take down?

  3. annie on February 23, 2013, 1:39 pm

    from the last link:

    Eitam’s aim is to turn the national religious camp into a kind of bridgehead, a national avant-garde movement. According to Eitam, the Zionism of normality has run its course. So the mission of religious Zionism now is to lead the entire country toward a new horizon, a new purpose: to establish the Temple.

    this is from 2002, he’s a quack nutjob.

  4. on February 23, 2013, 1:44 pm

    “More on Eitam (thanks to Annie Robbins): He has called Arabs in Israel and the West Bank a ticking time bomb and anticipated a regional war in which Israel is compelled to expel Palestinians to the east side of the Jordan River. ”

    Add this, which has already been very widely publicized:
    “Eitam told me that he believes there are innocent men among the Palestinians, but that they are collectively guilty. “We will have to kill them all,” he said.”

    Hard to imagine anyone missing him if he came to grief.

    • annie on February 23, 2013, 1:51 pm

      “More on Eitam (thanks to Annie Robbins):

      ;) i already edited that out of phil’s text, but not fast enough apparently. phil is too kind, if he starts crediting me for any little link i send him readers will get sick of me.

      • Kathleen on February 23, 2013, 2:25 pm

        He does thank you

  5. kalithea on February 23, 2013, 1:44 pm

    Zionists are sneaky and calculating this way. Nothing like this is done in “broad daylight”. They’re trying to capitalize on the present miseries of Syrians created by outsiders and the fact that Assad is embroiled in a civil war to once again STEAL what isn’t theirs and CLEARLY belongs to Syrians. They have decades of experience capitalizing on misery to rob others of the little they have.

    • Kathleen on February 23, 2013, 2:32 pm

      “They have decades of experience capitalizing on misery to rob others of the little they have”

      One would think the international community would be stepping again on this one. Not that Israel cares what the international community or courts think or define.

    • bilal a on February 23, 2013, 5:13 pm

      More evidence that Israel’s economy depends on tension, terror, and war. From its “high tech’ military sector to its War of Civilizations Tourism sector, we see military economic dependency. But as the Rothschild -Murdoch investment shows, Israel isnt necessarily sovereign to its own people, but to Zionist finance globally.

      Unfortunately it will be Jews and non_Jews alike in Palestine which bears the enduring social costs of International Economic Zionism.

      Of course the major beneficiaries of Greater israel expansionism and its required associated wars and insurgencies are the major International Oil companies and Weapons dealers. Without Israel 3 trillion in DOD transfers, and multi trillion dollars more in Higher Oil Price profits would be squandered. Note none of this wealth is actual wealth creation, but merely wealth transfers from taxpayers and oil consumers to the war-oil cartel.

      Political Economy alone explains Israeli policies , and their implicit alliances with the Gulf monachies, understood fully in their international financial context.

      • OlegR on February 24, 2013, 11:32 am

        / International Economic Zionism/

        Oh boy , this is classic…

  6. American on February 23, 2013, 2:20 pm

    “includes former Vice President Dick Cheney, media magnate Rupert Murdoch, and former Republican Rep. Jim Courter.”

    O.K., this is where I go into one of my fantasies again……about how much simpler it would be to have Special Swat Team to get rid of criminals who are above the law.
    You kill, you steal, you cheat, you die…or at least get disappeared.
    Is that uncivilized?

    • on February 23, 2013, 7:39 pm

      American – Well, it is. The civilized way would be as we as we all know to capture and extradite them where they can be judged.
      It is regrettable for some that the US won’t try them, as the US Military Code, being as savage as we are, disposes for the ritual murder called “death penalty”.

  7. Kathleen on February 23, 2013, 2:31 pm

    Neocons, Israel been pushing for the conflict with Syria at the Project for A New American Website and Perle, and Wursmers targeted Syria in their plan drawn up for Netanyahu/Israel

    Securing the Northern Border

    Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which American can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon, including by:

    striking Syria’s drug-money and counterfeiting infrastructure in Lebanon, all of which focuses on Razi Qanan.

    paralleling Syria’s behavior by establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces.

    striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, striking at select targets in Syria proper.

    Israel also can take this opportunity to remind the world of the nature of the Syrian regime. Syria repeatedly breaks its word. It violated numerous agreements with the Turks, and has betrayed the United States by continuing to occupy Lebanon in violation of the Taef agreement in 1989. Instead, Syria staged a sham election, installed a quisling regime, and forced Lebanon to sign a “Brotherhood Agreement” in 1991, that terminated Lebanese sovereignty. And Syria has begun colonizing Lebanon with hundreds of thousands of Syrians, while killing tens of thousands of its own citizens at a time, as it did in only three days in 1983 in Hama.

    Under Syrian tutelage, the Lebanese drug trade, for which local Syrian military officers receive protection payments, flourishes. Syria’s regime supports the terrorist groups operationally and financially in Lebanon and on its soil. Indeed, the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley in Lebanon has become for terror what the Silicon Valley has become for computers. The Bekaa Valley has become one of the main distribution sources, if not production points, of the “supernote” — counterfeit US currency so well done that it is impossible to detect.


    Negotiations with repressive regimes like Syria’s require cautious realism. One cannot sensibly assume the other side’s good faith. It is dangerous for Israel to deal naively with a regime murderous of its own people, openly aggressive toward its neighbors, criminally involved with international drug traffickers and counterfeiters, and supportive of the most deadly terrorist organizations.

    Given the nature of the regime in Damascus, it is both natural and moral that Israel abandon the slogan “comprehensive peace” and move to contain Syria, drawing attention to its weapons of mass destruction program, and rejecting “land for peace” deals on the Golan Heights. ”


  8. talknic on February 23, 2013, 4:02 pm

    Israel has no right to profit from Syrian resources in the Golan. The Occupying Power is duty bound under the UN Charter, Laws of war and GC’s to protect the people, their property and their territory. // Laws of War Art. 55. “The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.”// ( more here http://www.icrc.or…docs/v1_rul_rule51 )

    Furthermore, the US is a signatory to the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (1933/34) . ARTICLE 11 – The contracting states definitely establish as the rule of their conduct the precise obligation not to recognize territorial acquisitions or special advantages which have been obtained by force whether this consists in the employment of arms, in threatening diplomatic representations, or in any other effective coercive measure. The territory of a state is inviolable and may not be the object of military occupation nor of other measures of force imposed by another state directly or indirectly or for any motive whatever even temporarily.

    • Hostage on February 23, 2013, 9:37 pm

      the US is a signatory to the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (1933/34) . ARTICLE 11 . . .

      The Chapter on the Fundamental Rights and Duties of States in the Charter of the Organization of American States (1948, UN Registration: 01/16/1952 No. 1609 Vol. 119) says the very same thing. But it has about 35 American and Carribean State signatories vs. the 19 State parties to the Montevideo Convention.

      It’s not without relevance that the same U.S. State Department expert on international law, Marjorie M. Whiteman, was responsible for helping to draft both the OAS and UN Charters; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and the U.S. State Department’s fifteen-volume “Digest of International Law”.

      The most famous invocation of the principle you cited was the enunciation of the “Stimson Doctrine” regarding the non-recognition of Japan’s unilateral seizure of the territory of Manchuria.

      Despite the fact that China and Palestine are both situated on the continent of Asia, Abba Eban argued during the deliberations on resolution 242 that the inadmissibility principle was not relevant to the Middle East because it grew out of the particular historical experiences of Latin America (“It is not relevant to transfer the territorial doctrines and experiences of another hemisphere to an area in which the only territorial agreements which have ever existed have been based on military considerations alone.”). See paragraph 49 (page 8) of S/PV.1375 (OR)

      It is also interesting to compare the action taken by the United Nations against Iraq for its occupation of Kuwaiti oil fields, which contrasts starkly with the U.N. action taken against Israel for its occupation of Arab Territories’ during
      and after the 1967 war and its search for oil and gas in the Sinai, off the coasts of Gaza and Lebanon, and the latest venture in the Golan.

  9. Keith on February 23, 2013, 5:18 pm

    “Israel has reportedly granted a U.S. energy firm with heavyweight political connections to explore for oil and gas in the occupied Golan Heights.”

    Since we all know that the Middle East is never about oil, only the Lobby, it would appear that they are exploring the Golan Heights looking for non-fungible members of the Lobby. Perhaps Dick Cheney has misplaced Elliott Abrams?

    • blg432 on February 23, 2013, 7:27 pm


      Beating on strawman isn’t a good way to present information. You would be better off dispensing with that. Just a friendly tip.

      • Keith on February 23, 2013, 11:38 pm

        BOB- “Just a friendly tip.”

        Thanks for the friendly advice! You can rest assured that I will give it all the attention it deserves! Actually, my comment was meant to be more whimsical than substantive.

  10. DICKERSON3870 on February 23, 2013, 6:08 pm

    RE: “In fresh defiance of Obama, Israeli gov’t approves oil-drilling in occupied Golan”

    MY COMMENT: Israel has gotten away with it before* (despite its being a violation of International Law), so it is no surprise that they think that they can get away with it again. That’s what happens when you constantly allow a country to get away with repeatedly and flauntingly violating International Law.

    * FROM WIKIPEDIA [Energy in Egypt] AND MY MEMORY:
    In 1908,commercial quantities of oil were first found in Egypt, and more petroleum was found in the late 1930s along the Gulf of Suez. Later, large oil fields were discovered in the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Suez, the Western Desert, and the Eastern Desert.
    When Israel attacked Egypt and occupied the Sinai following the Six Day war in 1967, Israel began furiously pumping oil from Egypt’s Sinai oil wells over Egypt’s strenuous objections. The Abu Rudeis and Ra’s Sudr oil fields in the Sinai were returned to Egyptian control in November 1975. The remaining Sinai oil fields reverted to Egyptian control by the end of April 1982 as a consequence of the The Camp David Accords and the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.

  11. Avi_G. on February 23, 2013, 9:19 pm

    I wonder if Syria could sue Israel or sue the company over the profiting from their occupied natural resources.

    I hope Hostage will weight in on this.

  12. Hostage on February 23, 2013, 9:53 pm

    I wonder if Syria could sue Israel or sue the company over the profiting from their occupied natural resources.

    Of course, and Syria can also go to the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and get monetary penalties imposed.

  13. on February 23, 2013, 10:05 pm

    Avi_G – “I wonder if Syria could sue Israel or sue the company over the profiting from their occupied natural resources.”

    This, really, is the quintessential illustration of the idiom “so sue me”.

    • NickJOCW on February 24, 2013, 8:20 am

      Israel has a Pentateuchal mindset so morality doesn’t come into it and international law is only effective when flouting it attracts penalties.

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