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A New Battle Over Resources in Israel

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Posted on Apr 28, 2011
Wikimedia Commons / MathKnight and Zachi Evenor (CC-BY-SA)

The Israeli flag flies near the Mediterranean Sea.

By Jon Dillingham

(Page 2)

The campaign against Sheshinski was the work of the oil lobby and die-hard supporters of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party as well as key members of the Likud Party. The lobby has blocked changes to the 1952 Oil Law twice over the last 10 years, and opponents of the law have argued that because the gas has already been discovered, the rules cannot be changed “retroactively.” The ploy was too transparent to succeed, but the campaign did soften the law with a significant loophole.

Hours before the vote, the Knesset finance committee revised the bill to except the minister of infrastructure, Yisrael Beiteinu’s Uzi Landau, from having to report data on gas finds to tax authorities. Landau had shown his true colors earlier in the debate by saying Lebanon risked a war with Israel for trying to claim gas reserves in its territorial waters.

Shir Hever, an economist with the Alternative Information Center, has no doubt that Landau will help the gas companies avoid the full brunt of the new taxes by hiding the extent of the reserves exploited.

“It would be naive to assume that the companies will volunteer to pay the full amount when they can easily give distorted reports,” he said. “If it comes to court, the companies can always claim that it’s a matter of interpretation and not willful concealment of information.”

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For Hever, the law does not herald a change in Israel’s social policies and the ordeal actually shows how “corrupt and divided” his country has become.

“Suddenly, calling for more resources for the state through taxation of capitalists is considered ‘not patriotic,’ as if the capitalists are the ‘real’ Israel.”

But for now, those behind Sheshinski’s recommendation remain optimistic.

Meimad’s Melchior said much of the income will be put in a national fund to be used to enact “sweeping economic and social reforms,” adding that Israelis had long agreed that such spending was necessary. “But they’ve said in the past that we have to pay money for security and defense, and we don’t have resources ... but now we’ll have [heavy funding] over a long period.”

Melchior looks to the Norway model, in which the interest from a fund containing the country’s vast petroleum income pays for its vaunted social welfare programs. Melchior and the forum want to have the money in Israel pay for better education, health, welfare, senior benefits, housing, environmental protection and public transit, as well as for programs dedicated to bringing full equality to the country’s Palestinian Arab citizens.

Though critics claim the law doesn’t go far enough (the forum had advocated that 80 percent of profits go to the state), and the financial committee was able to corrupt the bill with the Landau loophole, it is not impossible that funds provided by the new tax policy could help close socioeconomic gaps if used properly.

The hope is that the movement does not quiet down. It will be up to activists to avoid a repeat of the outcome of the March social workers’ strike, which ended without major gains being made by the workers.

“We started the Israel Civic Action Forum 11 months ago so there would be no shady deals in closed dark rooms—the whole public would be there,” said Rabbi Melchior. “We will continue to follow this, every step of the way; nobody’s going to get away with not doing their obligations.”


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By MeHere, May 1, 2011 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

Interested in Israeli-Palestinian peace?  Check this site:

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/index_en.html

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By Robert, April 30, 2011 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment

As a Holocaust Survivor, AIPAC Doesn’t Speak for Me

by Hedy Epstein


April 29, 2011


At the end of one of my first journeys to the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 2004, I endured a shocking experience at Ben-Gurion Airport. I never imagined that Israeli security forces would abuse a 79-year-old Holocaust survivor, but they held me for five hours, and strip-searched and cavity-searched every part of my naked body. The only shame these security officials expressed was to turn their badges around so that their names were invisible.

The only conceivable purpose for this gross violation of my bodily integrity was to humiliate and terrify me. But it had just the opposite effect. It made me more determined to speak out against abuses by the Israeli government and military.

Yet my own experience, unpleasant as it was, is nothing compared to the indignities and abuses heaped on Palestinians year after year. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is based not on equal rights and fair play, but on what Human Rights Watch has termed a “two-tier” legal system – in other words, apartheid, with one set of laws for Jews and a harsh, oppressive set of laws for Palestinians.

This, however, is the legal system and security state AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) will defend from May 22-24 at its annual conference. And, despite this grim reality, members of Congress will converge to hail AIPAC and Israel. The Palestinians’ lack of freedom is bound to be obscured at the AIPAC conference with its obsessive focus on security and shunting aside of anything to do with upholding fundamental Palestinian rights.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

{Hedy Epstein is a Holocaust survivor who writes and travels extensively to speak about social justice causes and Middle Eastern affairs.}

http://uruknet.com/?p=m77276&hd;=&size=1&l=e

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, April 30, 2011 at 6:09 pm Link to this comment

I believe Manchild brings to the fore an important context.

If you support the death of Anwar Sedat, if you’re willing to die in an attempt to harm all who would make peace with dog Jews, if you believe in the writings of Zawahiri, Rahman and Shaaban, if you pledge yourself an enemy of the United States - specifically as the cause of the planet’s ills- you are an exalted hero who’s name should be remembered for a thousand years.

I do not believe most here understand that they closely share the beliefs of people such as Sayyid Nosair and Hassan Nasrallah.  I believe it is unwitting.

I blame Western media culture.  A culture which places the United States at the center and apex of the universe.  A universe which enslaves Arabs in abject poverty in Jordan’s West Bank and Gaza while completely surrounded by the globe’s wealthiest per capita nations.

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By Steve E, April 30, 2011 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment

They are beginning to eat their own, interesting.

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By Robert, April 30, 2011 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

The Brown Daily Herald

Jonathan Ben-Artzi: Yes, apartheid


As an Israeli, I had to start planning for my military service during my senior year of high school. In Israel, interviews, medical checkups, examinations and forms are all a routine part of one’s 18th birthday. However, long before scheduling my first interview, I had already made up my mind: “I will not join the military.” I decided that I had to take a stand in the face of policies of segregation and discrimination that ravaged (and still ravage) my country and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Within Israel, these acts of segregation include towns reserved for Jews only, immigration laws that allow any Jew from around the world to immigrate but simultaneously deny displaced indigenous Palestinians that same right, and national health care and school systems that receive significantly more funding in Jewish towns than in Arab towns. Even former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described the situation as a “deliberate discrimination,” and added that “governments have denied [Palestinian citizens of Israel] their rights to improve their quality of life.”

The situation in the Occupied Territories is even worse. Nearly 4 million Palestinians have been living under Israeli occupation for over 40 years without basic human and civil rights. Examples include roads that are for Jews only, discrimination in water supply (Israelis use as much as four times more water than Palestinians, while Palestinians are not allowed to dig their own wells and must rely on Israeli supply) and the collective punishment of Gaza, where 1.5 million Palestinians have been living in the largest open-air prison on earth for over four years.

~~~~~~~~~~


One of the few honest & conscientious Israelis with a “pro-human” agenda…”discrimination in water supply (Israelis use as much as four times more water than Palestinians, while Palestinians are not allowed to dig their own wells and must rely on Israeli supply).


Click on link for details:

http://www.browndailyherald.com/jonathan-ben-artzi-yes-apartheid-1.2236332

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By ardee, April 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

rico, suave, April 29 at 9:21 am

Why you are so intent upon proving yourself a one dimensional shallow thinker is beyond me. Perhaps it is because you are a one dimensional shallow thinker…..

You may certainly distort the meaning of anyone post and sit back thinking you have accomplished something. I doubt many here will agree with you. But then you care not for real debate, honesty or integrity.

Perhaps this is so because you are a one dimensional shallow thinker….

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, April 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment

Good for Israel, I hope they find a new source of revenue other than that from the U.S.

Time to cut them off.

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nefesh's avatar

By nefesh, April 29, 2011 at 9:26 am Link to this comment

By rico, suave, April 29 at 9:21 am Link to this comment


ardee:

“Of course, Israel also has a similar problem to ours in that they, and we, commit violence upon others.”

Commit violence, indeed. We committed frightful violence on Germany in WWII. Amen to that.

Apply that concept (if you can) and let’s move on. Jeeez.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, April 29, 2011 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

ardee:

“Of course, Israel also has a similar problem to ours in that they, and we, commit violence upon others.”

If only the US and Israel would totally disarm, the world would finally be at peace!!! No more Bosnias, no more Darfurs, no more Rwandas, no more Chechnyas, no more Kashmirs, no more Tibets, no more Gaddafis, no more Sunni/Shiite split, no need for sharia. And MOST important- no more Israel! It will be ever heaven on earth!

Once again, the mantra, with feeling truthdiggers!!:
There is trouble in the world.
The US/Israel exists.
It’s the US’s/Israel’s fault.
QED

And exactly how is your post apropos of taxing gas fields? Or do you just use the fact that the subject is Israel to vent your spleen? Again.

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nefesh's avatar

By nefesh, April 29, 2011 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

By Go Right Young Man, April 29 at 5:04 am Link to this comment


Yes, Manchild, embedded in your comments is an important point.

If you’re predominantly Caucasian, predominantly Christian or Jew, if your country holds free and open elections, has an independent judiciary, a vibrant and free press, if you’re able to criticize the government without fear of arrest or being murdered you are obviously evil and the cause of the world’s ills.

~FWOOSH~

That’s the sound of an idealistic fool just not getting the joke. Tough crowd, eh? But hey, all you can do is tell ‘em. The rest is up to them, win or lose.

Apparently there are two rather sizeable natural gas finds in Israeli territorial waters, one of which is the aptly-named Leviathan field. This, plus the vast petroleum deposits embedded in shale under the Negev, should allow Israel to provide for her own needs as well as becoming an energy exporter for the first time.

There is a delicious irony here. Ever since Israel’s independence from colonial rule in 1948 she has had to survive the attempted strangulation of her economy by the oil-rich Arab tyrants and their radical lackeys, in addition to the constant state of war imposed on her on all fronts. This has been a huge economic weight to bear for all the obvious reasons, but has forced Israel - out of vecessity, certainly, but perhaps as a natural consequence of cultural values and traditions as well - to rely on a knowlege-based growth strategy emphasizing scientific research and innovation.

The result: Israel has reinvented herself, from an agrarian economy into a high-tech entrepreneurial success story. Oil sheikdoms pay foreigners to extract mineral resources for which they can neither handle themselves nor ever claim any credit for having created, enriching the few but leaving even the monetarily rich intellectually impoverished.

For example, having no extractable energy sources (to date, anyway), Israel is emerging as a leader in electric drive vehicle technologies. It’s green, it’s very politically correct, and it’s going to be a hugely lucrative market in years to come, all over the world. Smart, yes? Check out Better Place:

Time Magazine’s story:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2066975,00.html

http://www.betterplace.com/

And here is where I first read about this great company and the backstory of not only the founder but of the ethos and culture which allowed this game-changer to emerge:

http://www.amazon.com/Start-up-Nation-Israels-Economic-Miracle/dp/044654146X

Startup Nation by Saul Singer is a great read. I admired the Israeli spirit before I read this book, but came away with an even deeper appreciation for how she is not only beating the odds but making the world a better place - literally.

So here’s the rub. What made the economic miracles so finely portrayed in Startup Nation possible was the imperative to succeed, against all odds. No oil wealth to count on, just the brainpower of a few million Jews. So now that there is the potential for easy - call it lazy - money to be made simply by extracting resources from under the ground and sea, how will this affect the culture of innovation that has come to characterize the Israeli economy? Smart policy planning can ensure the spirit never atrophies, but we’re talking politics and economics, so “smart” and “policy” are never a given. Stay tuned, good people.

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By Robert, April 29, 2011 at 7:31 am Link to this comment

Vandals Foul Palestinian village’s Water Supply

By Israeli journalist Amira Hass

Haaretz

The Madama village’s spring was deliberately contaminated and its water supply system was sabotaged 10 days ago, village council head Ayed Kamal said Sunday.

This is the sixth time in the past three years that the spring, the only source of water of the village’s 1,700 residents, and the water system, has been deliberately damaged.

The village is located near the extremist Yitzhar settlement and its outposts.

An Oxfam delegation, accompanied by an Israel Defense Forces unit for protection, set out last Thursday to gauge the damage. The Oxfam group needed protection after armed Israelis opened fire on workers repairing the spring and water pipes on two previous occasions during 2002.

Talia Somech, a spokeswoman for the IDF’s civil administration, told Haaretz that the IDF learned of the damage only during the visit on Thursday and that the matter would be passed on to the police.

Kamal told Haaretz that 10 days ago a group of Israelis, some of them armed, clashed with shepherds near the spring. That evening the water stopped flowing to the villagers’ houses. On Thursday they found that the water pipes had been broken and the cement encasing one of the water wells had been smashed to pieces. The debris had been thrown into the well.

A number of times from the end of 2000 to the end of 2003, the villagers had no water to their homes after unknown perpetrators smashed the water pipes and threw building waste into the water holes.”

~~~~~~~~~~~

Click on link:

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/vandals.html

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By Robert, April 29, 2011 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

Water War Leaves Palestinians Thirsty

Like many other things in the region, water is in hot dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians.


BBC News


‘Unfair’


“The water that Israel receives comes mainly from the Jordan river system, the Sea of Galilee and two underground sources.

The supply is shared between Israelis and Palestinians, but, as ever, is a source of great controversy.

At the Third World Water Conference in Kyoto, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev outlined the history of water conflict around the world.

He said there had been 21 armed disputes over water in recent history and 18 of them involved Israel.

“It’s highly unfair,” said Yehezkel Lein, a water expert for Israeli human rights group B’tselem, who help to solve water problems in Palestinian areas.

“We are talking about mainly the mountain aquifer and the Jordan River system. Regarding the first one Israel exploits approximately 80% of the renewal water resources, and the Palestinians the remaining 20%.

“Regarding the Jordan River system, the Palestinians do not have any access.” “


~~~~~~~~~~

Click on link for the rest of details:

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/waterwar.html

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By Go Right Young Man, April 29, 2011 at 5:04 am Link to this comment

Yes, Manchild, embedded in your comments is an important point.

If you’re predominantly Caucasian, predominantly Christian or Jew, if your country holds free and open elections, has an independent judiciary, a vibrant and free press, if you’re able to criticize the government without fear of arrest or being murdered you are obviously evil and the cause of the world’s ills.

On the other hand; if you are opposed to all of the above, well, you’re obviously a “Freedom Fighter” and a hero!

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By madisolation, April 29, 2011 at 4:46 am Link to this comment

I don’t understand the poverty statistics. Philip Giraldi wrote that Israel:
  “...has a strong economy and in per capita income it ranks at the same level as Great Britain.  Its citizens receive free medical care and education through university level.”
http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2011/04/27/whats-in-it-for-us-mr-obama/
and:
“It has received generous trade and co-production concessions from Congress that some claim amount to $10 billion a year in aggregate national income while its own markets are difficult for US companies to penetrate.”

Sure, the corporate fascists are going to infiltrate the already-corrupt government of Israel. Excuse me, though, if I don’t waste my time sympathizing with a country that launched the Lebanon War, followed by Cast Lead, and threatens Iran at every turn, while AIPAC threatens or blackmails Congress for the unconditional support of Israel at the expense of our own children’s safety and security.

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By ardee, April 29, 2011 at 2:55 am Link to this comment

Israel seems to have very similar internal problems to our own with far right wing groups refusing to allow common sense legislation to pass unhindered. Of course, Israel also has a similar problem to ours in that they, and we, commit violence upon others.

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