Washington’s Blog: War in Gaza = War Over Natural Gas?

We extensively documented that the wars in the Middle East and North Africa are largely about oil and gas.  (Update: Iran has just started building its gas pipeline to Syria.)

As Professor Michel Chossudovsky noted in 2009, gas may be a central reason for the war over Gaza as well:

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline.

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon’s Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21, 2007).

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine’s gas reserves could be much larger.

gazagasmap War in Gaza = War Over Natural Gas?
Map 1

gazagasmap2 War in Gaza = War Over Natural Gas?

Map 2

Who Owns the Gas Fields

The issue of sovereignty over Gaza’s gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine.

The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves.

British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields.

The election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 was a major turning point. Palestine’s sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court. Sharon stated unequivocally that “Israel would never buy gas from Palestine” intimating that Gaza’s offshore gas reserves belong to Israel.

In 2003, Ariel Sharon, vetoed an initial deal, which would allow British Gas to supply Israel with natural gas from Gaza’s offshore wells. (The Independent, August 19, 2003)

The election victory of Hamas in 2006 was conducive to the demise of the Palestinian Authority, which became confined to the West Bank, under the proxy regime of Mahmoud Abbas.

In 2006, British Gas “was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt.” (Times, May, 23, 2007). According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt.

The following year, in May 2007, the Israeli Cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “to buy gas from the Palestinian Authority.” The proposed contract was for $4 billion, with profits of the order of $2 billion of which one billion was to go the Palestinians.

Tel Aviv, however, had no intention on sharing the revenues with Palestine. An Israeli team of negotiators was set up by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a deal with the BG Group, bypassing both the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority:

“Israeli defence authorities want the Palestinians to be paid in goods and services and insist that no money go to the Hamas-controlled Government.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

The objective was essentially to nullify the contract signed in 1999 between the BG Group and the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.

Under the proposed 2007 agreement with BG, Palestinian gas from Gaza’s offshore wells was to be channeled by an undersea pipeline to the Israeli seaport of Ashkelon, thereby transferring control over the sale of the natural gas to Israel.

The deal fell through. The negotiations were suspended:

Mossad Chief Meir Dagan opposed the transaction on security grounds, that the proceeds would fund terror”. (Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan, Address to the Knesset on “The Intention of Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Purchase Gas from the Palestinians When Payment Will Serve Hamas,” March 1, 2006, quoted in Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza’s Coastal Waters Threaten Israel’s National Security? Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, October 2007)

Israel’s intent was to foreclose the possibility that royalties be paid to the Palestinians. In December 2007, The BG Group withdrew from the negotiations with Israel and in January 2008 they closed their office in Israel.(BG website).

Invasion Plan on The Drawing Board

The invasion plan of the Gaza Strip under “Operation Cast Lead” was set in motion in June 2008, according to Israeli military sources:

“Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago [June or before June] , even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.”(Barak Ravid, Operation “Cast Lead”: Israeli Air Force strike followed months of planning, Haaretz, December 27, 2008)

That very same month, the Israeli authorities contacted British Gas, with a view to resuming crucial negotiations pertaining to the purchase of Gaza’s natural gas:

“Both Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler agreed to inform BG of Israel’s wish to renew the talks.

The sources added that BG has not yet officially responded to Israel’s request, but that company executives would probably come to Israel in a few weeks to hold talks with government officials.” (Globes online- Israel’s Business Arena, June 23, 2008)

The decision to speed up negotiations with British Gas (BG Group) coincided, chronologically, with the planning of the invasion of Gaza initiated in June. It would appear that Israel was anxious to reach an agreement with the BG Group prior to the invasion, which was already in an advanced planning stage.

Moreover, these negotiations with British Gas were conducted by the Ehud Olmert government with the knowledge that a military invasion was on the drawing board. In all likelihood, a new “post war” political-territorial arrangement for the Gaza strip was also being contemplated by the Israeli government.

In fact, negotiations between British Gas and Israeli officials were ongoing in October 2008, 2-3 months prior to the commencement of the bombings on December 27th.

In November 2008, the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructures instructed Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to enter into negotiations with British Gas, on the purchase of natural gas from the BG’s offshore concession in Gaza. (Globes, November 13, 2008)

“Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler wrote to IEC CEO Amos Lasker recently, informing him of the government’s decision to allow negotiations to go forward, in line with the framework proposal it approved earlier this year.

The IEC board, headed by chairman Moti Friedman, approved the principles of the framework proposal a few weeks ago. The talks with BG Group will begin once the board approves the exemption from a tender.” (Globes Nov. 13, 2008)

Gaza and Energy Geopolitics

The military occupation of Gaza is intent upon transferring the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel in violation of international law.


These various offshore installations are also linked up to Israel’s energy transport corridor, extending from the port of Eilat, which is an oil pipeline terminal, on the Red Sea to the seaport – pipeline terminal at Ashkelon, and northwards to Haifa, and eventually linking up through a proposed Israeli-Turkish pipeline with the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Ceyhan is the terminal of the Baku, Tblisi Ceyhan Trans Caspian pipeline. “What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel’s Tipline.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 23, 2006)

LevantineEnergyCorridor War in Gaza = War Over Natural Gas?
Map 3

Is Middle Eastern politics boiling down – yet again – to oil and gas?

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About George Washington

George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander… http://www.washingtonsblog.com


  1. psychohistorian

    While the commodities are oil and gas the control is exerted through money and power which is accumulated because of inheritance.

    The Western world is controlled by the global inherited rich of the past few centuries. Economics is a cover myth of their global trickle down investment and country political control strategies.

    Follow the money….if you can. It goes to the folk behind the curtains telling the IMF, World Bank, Fed and major world politicians what to do.

    1. Stelios Theoharidis

      I was going to link this post but decided after looking at the details of the contract and the size of the gas fields relative to the Israeli economy that it may not be wise. I really don’t enjoy defending Israel because I think their behavior relative to the Palestinians has been absolutely horrific. But, I think the premise of this article should probably be restructured.

      The Israeli economy is worth about $235 billion, their government expenditure is $75 billion. If this is a $4 billion gas field and revenue sharing with extractive companies is 10% that is approximately 400 million, divided by the contract term (which I don’t know) but may be 10 years, that is $40 million a year. Not really that much.

      Unless the estimates are astoundingly low, I doubt that the Israeli’s are interested in the natural gas. Apparently their economy is losing $1.1 billion a week due to this conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Now keeping the money out of the hands of Hamas may be of interest to the Israelis since the money could buy a decent amount of weapons and potentially help bolster their authority. Apparently, aid to the Palestinian Authority was $7.7 billion from the Americans and Europeans between 2008 and 2010. But, I would suspect that this aid isn’t purely financial but rather in goods and services, to prevent the acquisition of weapons and I don’t know the answer to this question but it seems to be for all of Palestine and not Gaza specifically. Since I don’t have any decent estimates on Hamas spending in Gaza or the size of the Gaza I can’t estimate the value of the contracts versus their existing revenues.

      I would venture to say that the military engagement is not just specifically for the gas and to keep those revenues out of the hands of Hamas but also and probably mainly to do a cleanup of weapons stockpiles that have accumulated in Gaza since Cast Lead. It is harsh to call it a cleanup because obviously they are killing noncombatants and putting the citizens through hell. But, they do this periodically so that Hamas and other factions do not accumulate significant stockpiles.

      1. Carol Sterritt

        What you are saying sounds very good, in terms of logical analysis. But the fact tremains taht it is also “fun” and certainly profitable for those in power to have wars. Nothing makes money like the smell of napalm (or phsophorous bombs dropped from drones) burning away in the morning.

        As long as it’s not your kids upon whom the harm is afflicted.

  2. PaulArt

    Disgusting is the word that comes to mind when one thinks of Israel but it does not even begin to describe the problem. Israel is on a relentless campaign to explain to the world why their peoples have been so persecuted over all time and in all places.

    1. Tiger

      Syria is not disgusting. Killing tens of thousands of your own people.
      Egypt is not disgusting. Stealing all your people’s control.
      China is not disgusting. Forcing people to buy homes at 10x income.
      Khazakstan is not disgusting. Shooting striking workers. Just shooting them.
      Putin is not disgusting. Using every trick to stay in power.

      But Tiny Israel who is ALWAYS one of the first countries to provide free expert help when theres an earthquake, and which has had 3 simultaneous ARAB parties in its parliament, with women members (even some Arab countries lack women Arab members in their “parliaments” is “disgusting”. Wow Great logic there!

      1. harry


        I dont know if you are a bot. I suspect you are. But let me be clear.

        ALL of the above are disgusting. Bibi’s crimes are crimes regardless of other counties crimes. Israel’s crimes are crimes regardless of other good deeds by Israel.

        This is not an existential question. This is a question of whether the current administration of Israel is acting in bad faith, commiting crimes against defenseless populations. Long live Israel. Let it live in peace and justice with its neighbours. And let all criminals be punished regardless of the nationalities or relgion.

        1. Tiger

          Please don’t frame this as being about 1 man, Bibi. My people are as responsible fo voting him in as Americans are for voting in bush and allowing the Iraq invasion to happen. I am proud enough in Israeli democracy to accept who my leader is even though I would never vote for him, personally.

          You Americans should be equally proud of your democracy. Oh wait.. All of a sudden I’m getting visions of Karl Rove and Chicago politicians…

        2. Tiger

          And yes of course Israel has committed crimes and continues to. And almost everyone does at some level. But the criticism deserves to be proportionate and devoid of conspiracy theories.

      1. hunkerdown

        Why do advocates for the sitting Israeli regime (a government, presumably of laws and policies and not race) try so hard to brand any criticism of the regime’s conduct as racism? Are you tacitly acknowledging that the Israeli government represents only one race and has no intention otherwise?

        People are wise to this nonsense by now, and the tactic has very little credibility. Your corporate masters are wasting their money.

  3. Judy C.

    Israel – the bully on the block. Israel will never achieve peace with these war-mongering policies of Netanyahu. What the Arabs see is an increasingly militant stance coming from Israel.The powers that be in Israel do not want peace, obviously. Their policies are reckless and put the peoples in that region in serious risk of war and death for some time to come.
    I am sure that God and Jesus do NOT approve of what “God’s chosen people” are doing.Netayahu and others of his ilk must be eliminated if Israel is ever to find true peace with their neighbors.And the US MUST STOP coddling this errant child at once.It is time for the US to stop its unswerving support and to stop supplying Israel with advanced weapons.
    Is it any wonder why so many countries do not like America?

    1. Tiger

      Sorry to disappoint you Judy but we Israelis do not – nor do we need to – “eliminate” any prime minister. We have parliamentary elections every 4 years as a base case plus non-confidence motions and early elections often enough. This is as opposed to your American system where you have two monsters, Obama vs Romney, and compete silencing of Jill Stein and Ron Paul. It is YOUR system that needs to be eliminated.

        1. Tiger

          I do believe Israel should diversify away from dependence on the US and its disastrous foreign policies and maybe we are headed in that direction. or maybe by the time we get there you guys will stop being and empire and things will fall into place.

          1. liberal

            What’s this “diversify away” nonsense?

            It would be good for the US if the US government made a 100% cut in aid to Israel. And I don’t mean slowly, over time, as “diversify away” would imply. I mean now, overnight.

            Sure, the US does plenty of evil things (like the invasion of Iraq). Because two wrongs don’t make a right, that doesn’t mean it’s OK for the US to sponsor Israeli apartheid.

            You like living in Sparta? Then pay for it yourself.

          2. Tiger

            Um. Read again. I didn’t say America should diversify away from us. I said WE should diversify away from YOU.

          3. liberal

            “I didn’t say America should diversify away from us.”

            I know. And nothing in your remarks indicates a desire to forgo all those AIPAC-driven dollars you love so much.

            To which the only conclusion is that you’re a rank hypocrite.

          4. Me

            LOL! Good luck. Which other country is insane enough to give you as much money as the US has, with equal power at the UN to protect your ass when you slaughter people and ignore international law? Israel isn’t disproportionately attacked in the US. In fact, our country just loves to criticize other country’s human rights abuses, especially when the country is considered an enemy of the state. That is not true of Israel. Not only are they not unfairly targeted, we in the US aren’t allowed to criticize Israel at all no matter what it does within the mainstream media. Bibi knows this, I am sure you saw the video of him bragging about how HE destroyed Oslo and how easy it was to push around the US, right?

            As someone above said, cut yourself off from US aid. Threaten Iran by yourself and open up YOUR damn nukes for international inspection. I worry about your country and the negative impact you will have on the region far more than Iran. Your country has attacked numerous countries in recent years, slaughtering thousands of innocent people. When is the last time Iran was even involved in a war? Was it when the US was giving Saddam all those chemical weapons to kill Iranians and his own people? When is the last time you attacked another country or region?

          5. tiger

            First of all, we don’t need your sarcastic wishes for luck. We have gone from keeping the Sabbath in basements in Spain in the middle ages, to being made to walk on only one side of the street in Russia and Yemen 100 years ago, to eventually building a country based on communist ideals, making food grow in the desert and becoming the 2nd largest country on the NASDAQ. If we want to cut ourselves off of American aid, I’m pretty sure we’re up to the task, thank you very much.

            I agree about what you say about U.S. government hypocrisy, of course. The U.S. criticizes human rights abuses mostly according to its interests. I think most of us here are on the same page on these types of issues.

            And.. whether you aren’t allowed to criticize Israel at all no matter what it does within the mainstream media… I guess I need to watch more TV before telling you that I agree, so I don’t know. I can certainly tell you that many people in the Jewish community hate CNN and think they are biased vs. Israel, not saying I agree but just giving you perspective.

            About Oslo, Bibi may have destroyed Olso but let’s be clear about one thing: the vast majority of Israelis including the very left-wing ‘peacenick’ ones agree that Oslo was a disaster. Originated by a bunch of professors who thought they were smarter than everyone, the process was stupid and senseless. It was being kept on paper while in practice more blood was shed than in the current period.

            “I worry about your country and the negative impact you will have on the region far more than Iran. Your country has attacked numerous countries in recent years, slaughtering thousands of innocent people.”

            This is simply a falsehood. We have attacked no country. Of course, when the North Koreans built a nuke plant for Syria we attacked it and “only” it. Although technically we bombed enemy territory, that’s not “attacking a country” in the “worry” sense of the term. If anything, it’s attacking a country in the “Now I’m relieved” sense of the term. Just imagine if this 10,000+ people slaughtering gangster dictator, Bashar Assad, had nukes.

            Just imagine…

            How much less would the world be able to pressure him to stop and leave. It’s already hard as is.

            And judging Israel vs. Iran on whether they were involved in a war is not the right metric. Two things come to mind:

            Jews have had to fight back for centuries. If you are picked on and you fight back, bang, it’s a conflict. That does not prove anything.

            Secondly, your depiction of Iran as a good country doesn’t stand the test of truth. 2009 revolution was brutally crushed. Women are repressed. Of course, the 1979 revolution itself was hijacked by these muslim extremists. Oh, and being gay is wrong in Iran too. Actually… I’m sorry…. that’s irrelevant….how could I forget: there are no gays in Iran.

          6. Me

            First off, I didn’t say Iran was a good or bad country. I have lived in other countries. The people who inhabit the countries vary and many times those in power don’t represent them well. I wasn’t trying to say the Iranian government was good either. I am saying that YOUR country has been very violent towards its neighbors and Iran has not. That is a fact. Your country has nukes, you have not signed the NPT, which calls for a nuclear free mideast, and don’t allow inspectors in to inspect your nukes. You still deny having nukes even though we all know you have them. I view you and the US, not Iran, as a threat to peace in the region and I am not alone outside of this bat$hit crazy country.

            My point in talking about Bibi and Oslo wasn’t Oslo itself. He admits things in that video that he denies in public and he admits things in that video that the press here simply ignores. He also talks about how easy it is to push around and manipulate the US. He is right and the media is a large reason why.

            As far as CNN and the media, give me a break. As I said, whoever says that wants 100% support no matter what Israel does. Stalin would be proud of that type of mindset. I have no patience with irrational people who live in their own twisted reality.

          7. Me

            By the way, I don’t blame you for remember things like 1492 or other historical events. However, it doesn’t justify the horrible things Israel does now. The Shining Path in Peru might have represented the oppressed, they were active in a region that has suffered greatly from Western imperialism and colonialism going back centuries. That doesn’t justify the actions of the Shining Path now does it?

  4. Jim Haygood

    “The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves. British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government.”

    Election of Hamas, you say? Someone should notify the Times-Titanic of this shocking development. In the heavily airbrushed history served up to its partisan New York readership, the election which Hamas won in 2006 doesn’t exist.

    Today, for instance, the newspaper of selective record carries an editorial boldly titled, “Hamas’s Illegitimacy.” How does one spin an election victory into illegitimacy, I wondered? Here’s the crucial sentence:

    Hamas, which took control of Gaza in 2007 and is backed by Iran, is so consumed with hatred for Israel that it has repeatedly resorted to violence, no matter the cost to its own people.


    So that’s how the pros do it … pretend the election never happened, use the ambiguous, omimous phrase ‘took control,‘ and then proceed to the standard character smear, ‘violent haters, backed by Iran.‘ After all, if they’re haters, it don’t matter if they won some cockamamie election. They didn’t deserve to win — because WE say so!

    Here ends today’s lesson from the master propagandists of the U.S. Mainstream Media. Although for all we know, this editorial may have been drafted in Jerusalem …

    1. Tiger

      Yes and no. Hamas did win an election. But Hamas also later took full control of other branches of Gaza government by violent means, including taking rival Fatah party members through the streets half naked, shooting some and dumping bodies in garbage cans. So it’s complicated, basically, but I can tell you that the latter stage happened with the same degree of swiftness as that with which you reach conclusions about events in countries you’ve never done much research on.

        1. tiger

          It sounds like you’re trying to draw me into something..I’m saying the conflict is multifaceted and you’re asking me who poisoned Arafat, just as I can ask who signed off on suicide bombers in 2001-2003 (Arafat) and who financed them with $25,000 a head (Saddam).

          But I don’t see how this is relevant to today. The Palestinain Fatah is pursuing diplomatic solutions and Arafat is dead.

      1. Xihuitl

        “Hamas did win an election. But Hamas also later took full control of other branches of Gaza government by violent means …”

        What other branches of government are there that would not include the national government that Hamas was elected to run througout Gaza and the West Bank?

        As for the “violent means,” are you referring to putting down the attempted coup led by Fatah thug Dahlan and sponsored by the US and Israel?

        1. tiger

          It is fair enough to say that we sponsor Fatah. I also support the democratic choice of Hamas as rulers of Gaza. But of course there are many examples of people elected democratically only to crush democracy once in power.

          What branches of government? Well I don’t mean branches in the US sense, but certainly anything that has to do with force/police/military has changed, and the intimidation of Hamas of Gaza citizens is not something you’ll see on paper.

          From Wikipedia:

          (these are some of the people shooting rockets on Israel)

          “Sheik Abu Saqer, leader of Jihadia Salafiya, an Islamic outreach movement that recently announced the opening of a “military wing” to enforce Muslim law in Gaza. “I expect our Christian neighbors to understand the new Hamas rule means real changes. They must be ready for Islamic rule if they want to live in peace in Gaza.”[34] The sole Christian bookstore in Gaza was attacked and the owner murdered.[35]

      2. Me

        Hey Tiger, be honest. Did your own government not aid in the formation of what would become Hamas? Don’t claim it is some conspiracy theory either, it has been acknowledged by countless Israeli officials, US officials and Yasser Arafat himself. He called Hamas a “creation of Israel”. That might not be totally accurate, but they sure helped. Israel feared leftist and nationalist movements and supported the Muslim Brotherhood (along with the US and many other countries in the West) to fight back against these elements.

        No one here is going to argue that the political system here is anything to brag about, but your mess is your own mess. Deal with it, with your own money, blood and smarts. Go at it alone, in opposition to the entire world. You wouldn’t last long without the US rescuing your ass.

        1. tiger

          Your premise is that I support everything my government does/did, which is not the case. If you ever walked in on a BBQ in Israel or a café, or even just a cab ride, you would see the violent political disagreements, ranging from left wing to right wing, stupid to smart, conspiracy to realism.

          Remember, we have something like 15-20 parties that could get seats in our 120-member parliament this election so Nethayahu does not have the support of a straight majority. He will rule via coalition. Plus, you don’t vote for him, you vote for the Likud party of which he is the head.

          And as for previous prime ministers or governments “creating” hamas… well… you’re going back many years, and then you have to take into account the evolution of Islam, the evolution of the West Bank and Gaza under Israeli control, the cold war, oil prices… These are complex issues that don’t leave room for simple theories.

          1. Me

            I realize the creation of Hamas is complex, however we Americans kind of have a lot of experience with blowback. You did create Hamas like groups in order to fight the left, including the PLO and people like Nasser. You and the US funded lots of Islamist groups to counter those elements instead of dealing with their critiques of Israel. Instead of listening your country decided to become more violent and militant and I think the argument that it was and is defensive falls on its face.

            I wasn’t saying you support your government, I’m glad you don’t. I am saying that when Israel acts this way, when it does it with US tax dollars and weapons, expect critcism. You should really listen and put yourself in others shoes. Also realize that Israel is not being unfarely targeted. Here in the states the media doesn’t criticize Israel at all, not one bit, no matter what it does. It angers me to hear someone claim Israel is being unfarely criticized. Give me a break.

          2. tiger

            To give you a short answer, I think that as far as the long-term historical narrative, there is indeed a huge pro-Israel bias both in the U.S. and among the American/Canadian/French Jewish population. Less so in Israel. Back home they discuss more openly the things that were done to Palestinians that were not right.

            As far as the short-term goes, whenever there is a flare-up in violence, or a UN conference or whatever, I think the bias is too much on the side of the Arabs, simply because the immediate reaction is “both sides this” and “both sides that”.

          3. Me

            There is a reason why there is such anger at Israel. They violate international law, international law is based on the 1967 borders and you know that. The wall is against international law. The taking of Palestinian land is against international law. Israel lashes out, many times irrationally, against innocent people and dispraportionately has responded to attacks. Some of the attacks they respond to pale in comparison to the type of things they do on a daily basis in the occupied territories. Israel has also reduced Gaza to absolute misery and is trying to take resources that could improve their living standards. There is more, which you probably know about.

            If there is a united international opposition its because most people feel a sense of injustice and they see Israel with the backing of the US and most Western states picking on and exploiting a weak opponent. On top of it, what Israel does greatly impacts the region, which is volitile to begin with. What should the world do, cheer Israel on as they destroy Gaza, violate international law and attack countries like Lebanon?

            Like I said, you don’t want balance. You want people to either support or cheer on Israel’s slaughter, plain and simple. Word it however you want, spin it however you want, it comes down to that in the end.

  5. Tiger

    Yes and no. Hamas did win an election. But Hamas also later took full control of other branches of Gaza government by violent means, including taking rival Fatah party members through the streets half naked, shooting some and dumping bodies in garbage cans. So it’s complicated, basically, but I can tell you that the latter stage happened with the same degree of swiftness as that with which you reach conclusions about events in countries you’ve never done much research on.

  6. Justin Boland

    This was an excellent piece. Washington is such a tireless connector of dots I have been assuming, for the past year at least, that it was a group pseudonym.

    Anyone know if that is so?

  7. Max424

    The Pipeline Theory! Love ya George!

    This might come as a shock to young people, but when I was a teen, coming of age in the late-1970s, you could not enter a conversation with a fellow Deep Thinker about the Great Game,* without discussing pipelines.

    Where are the biggest and baddest pipelines? Where will the new ones be laid down, meaning, which countries must be dominated, either physically or politically, in order to run a pipeline across their breadth and width? And most importantly, where is the source of the said –old or new– pipeline?

    Couldn’t stress the source thing enough, of course.

    In the interim between my youth and middle-age, unfortunately, so much knowledge has been lost (so much cognition!). I blame propaganda.

    *Nukes too, obviously. But nukes were boring, and you knew you had encountered a special Deep Thinker if you could quickly move beyond them.

    Nukes created a static board. It was just two Grandmasters playing a boring opening like the Catalan to a consensual draw. Yawn. Pipelines, on the other hand, served up an aggressive game, like the Sicilian Dragon, with hyper-complexity, endless combinational possibilities, and a win/lose –at all cost!– mentality pervading the day.

  8. Jefemt

    When has it not been about resources–lately oil and gas? Add in a dash of organized religion… If WAR boosts the economy, what’s with the delayed trickle down of the past 12 years in afghanipakiraqistan? The invisible hand too busy stacking the deck? Thank goodness the WAR department is excluded from the Grand Bargain fecal cliff discussions— marvel at the hum of the US economy!!! Much to ponder this THANKSgiving
    From the oil patch

  9. Max424

    “Nukes created a static board.”

    Not any more, though.

    Anybody notice Obama is taking a tour of China’s soft underbelly?

    If I was the US and I going to install First Strike anti-ballistic missile systems in strategically perfect locations, the first places I would look to put them would be in countries like, Myanmar, Cambodia, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and Japan.*

    I would also take over Afghanistan, as that would thoroughly compliment the plan.

    *Vietnam too, when they’re ready to forgive us.

    1. Susan the other

      I saw a map, forget source, of a pipeline either built or being built to run from the oil field of the South China Sea across Vietnam, Cambodia and terminating in Myanmar. The excuse the British are making for being all over Myanmar is that it provides them with a port and access to the Indian Ocean. Neither the Brits nor we ever mention SCS oil. But of course we all know that Myanmar has renounced its inhumane ways and so now we can all be friends again and trade our brains out.

      1. Max424

        The one I’m aware of kinda runs the other way, from Myanmar to China. Called the China-Myanmar Transport Corridor. Should be ready next year.


        Bypasses the Straits of Malacca. China, obviously, would like to circumvent that potential bottleneck whenever possible.

        And they’re doing so. China is stretching one-way pipelines across Central Eurasia like their survival depends on it. They also recently built two huge pipelines, up north, to tap into the petroleum fields of Siberian Russia.

        Lay a pipeline map over China, and it looks like a monster growing tentacles.

        Note: What can the US do to arrest China’s development, in other words, stop them from monopolizing the last of the world’s fast depleting fossil reserve?

        Two things only. Nothing, and blow them up with nukes. Since we’re not enamored with the first option, we’re concentrating on the second.

      2. rob

        more..same old,same old….
        the US sought to go into vietnam in the fifties and sixties, after the french lost their possesions, for oil,tin and rubber….
        all throughout the vietnam war, shell oil was drilling off shore of hanoi. and the tanker trucks were specifically out of the question, when it came on firing on them. despite them supplying both the north and the south….

  10. Middle Seaman

    The Arab-Israeli 100 year conflict is probably the only conflict with justifiable reasons. The Palestinians and the Israelis share a tiny piece of land that is too small even for one of the parties. Sharing is a difficult to reach.

    Many of the participants in the discussion know too little about the conflict. Many participants have racial prejudices. Many support bloodshed through their justification for one side or another.

    Two external forces, Iran and Turkey, get involved because each wants to resurrect an old empire. Those who justify Hamas do Gazan little favor. Israel will find a way to quiet Gaza; you would like to live under constant rocket attack. Israel will be richer and more sophisticated. Gaza is already dirt poor (since 1900) and will get poorer. The latter should be prevented even if Gaza leaders enjoy the power they have.

    Gas is not the problem, never was and never will.

    1. Antifa

      The overarching problem is that there is a militant orthodox core of Israelis who want all of Gaza, all of the West Bank, all of southern Lebanon and its lovely water, all or most of Jordan, and all of Syria so that Israel can become Greater Israel, as it was back in the Bronze Age.

      It is a hallmark of fascism everywhere to seek to restore a golden age that never was.

      1. Synopticist

        You’re half right there Antifa.
        The other half is the bunch of crazy fascists wanting to restore the golden age Caliphate.

        Both of the crazies make up a significant constituency of their respective sides countries/sides/governing coalitions.

      2. tiger

        “a militant orthodox core of Israelis”

        Core?? No. Fringe.
        You are challenged to show your sources indicating that this is the core of Israelis.

  11. rob

    gas and money streams….. aren’t they some of the usual suspects.Both are real politic considerations. every nation does this.
    Isreal is one of many bad actors in this world….The US is too. isreal can’t really do anything without help from the US.It is a tiny little stamp of a country,with a bad history.It wouldn’t even exist if not for over and covert help from the west.their schtick is to justify their existance….which wouldn’t be in question if they were to be able to live peacefully with the palestinians ,whose land they stole,or was stolen by others and given to them.
    these gas claims may be a matter of paying/running their daily accounts;but there are other reasons the isrealis must continue to oppress the palestinians…one being the demographic timebomb.
    since the isreali leadership,through multiple administrations, has proven itself incapable of peacefully living with its neighbors,by assasinations,missle strikes,killing innocent civillians,oppressing populations economically,military excursions,cyber crimes, propaganda ,and everything else it can think of….

    like bulldozing that muslim cemetary that was in existance since the 7th century, to build a “museum of tolerance” on it. This rabid gov’t by the sea,is vile.
    Isreal should be occupied by the UN, to protect the isreali people from a series of gov’ts run amok.this would allow the isrealis to recieve the same fair treatment the palestians could then recieve.If the UN troops were stationed inside isreal, then these isrealis won’t have to be afraid of constantly being attacked.These isreali’s won’t have to live in fear anymore.
    aside from occupying isreal because the gov’t is run by war criminals openly abuse human rights of others.
    We ought to cut funding at once for the gov’t. It is time to end the welfare state that is isreal.Let those orthodox get a job.Get real people, there is no messaiah coming. .these radical fundementalists and zionists are one of the biggest problems in the world, whatever their flavor… jewish/cristian/muslim.how ironic these three religions which are the same, think themselves so different… lets shine the light on all of them… and teach children reality instead of myth….
    then we would have less “noise” around greed driven assualts like the ones we see now.

  12. Aussie F

    I’m sure natural gas forms a part of it, but Israel’s broader, strategic goals are fairly obvious – firstly, to obviate any possibility of a meaningful Palestinain state by constructing settlements and destroying Palestinian infrastructure, ensuring that should a two state settlement ever take place the Palestinians will be left with a few worthless slums, criss crossed by Israeli superhighways connecting heavily armed ‘settlements,’ ie chauvanist military outposts.
    Secondly, Israel wants to undermine the regional prestige Hamas enjoys before the Palestinian Authority is granted UN observer status.
    As usual, the primary Israeli fear is peace and a political settlement in line with the international consensus. Israel reigns supreme in the dimension of military violence, but is politically weak, making the resort to force ever more attractive to the lunatics that now govern the political system.

  13. Adam K.

    Sick and tired by Israeli critics presenting black and white picture of the conflict. There is no pure good side here, and no complete bad side. It is only the simplistic minds who would like to present it this way. This article is a complete far fetched conspiracy theory and isn’t worth being publicized here at all. Seems that talks of ceasefire aren’t to effect the writer.
    As for Netanyahu regime, imagine that there are people in Israel who oppose his policies and are quite vocal about it, and it isn’t different than the right in the US. After all the seem to get along fine.

    1. Antifa

      If you are sick, see a doctor. If you are tired, go lay down.

      If you want to want to muddy the discussion by blaming both sides equally, by excusing one act of violence with another act of violence, stop boring us all with Propaganda 101 techniques.

      Of course the situation is grey — this is the way every situation looks if you want an excuse to spin it, if you want people to do nothing to better it.

      Israel is long since out of time for slipping its policies of conquest past the citizens of the world in a grey fog of double-talk.

      “Black and white” means people have taken a good, long look at what the two sides are doing and it is clear that, overwhelmingly, Israel is a bully acting in bad faith repeatedly, and is running a virtual concentration camp in the West Bank, now and for the previous decade.

      1. Adam K.

        Please don’t use the term concentration camp, since I know it first hand, and I assume you don’t. As for Israeli policy – I won’t even make an effort to defend it, and I never ever cast my ballot for the right wing there. BUT, although I know that there are peace seekers on the other side like myself, their leaders have a huge part for their sufferings, at least as much as the Israeli government does. They never missed an opportunity to miss opportunity and in this process convinced peace seeking people on the Israeli side that there is no hope but fight till the bitter end.
        You are mostly welcome to suggest solutions, I personally gave up, but neither side is a saint here therefore no black and white solution will work. And BTW, the difference in age is obvious, and yes I’m tired, mainly of people who have fast simple solutions to complex problems.

      2. tiger

        So you are resorting to personally attacking Adam when he says something completely sane, that it’s a complex issue. And YOU’RE accusing HIM of using special debating tactics?

  14. jim3981

    I no longer think the conflicts in the mid-east are related to oil. After studying religions, I would say it is more likely a war going on in the holy land centered around the deep religious history in and around Jerusalem.

    1. tiger

      Both sides are pushed against each other by larger powers, but at the same time they have the core direct conflict. It’s just the international powers egging them on, like in high school.

      But certainly not as much as other such conflicts. At the end of the day it’s about 2 peoples who lived on the same land while it was part of 2 empires (ottoman and british) and they’ve never come to an agreement to be completely at peace.

      1. jim3981

        Not in my opinion. It’s way more complicated than that. It’s about Christinity, Talmudic Judaism, Islamic faith, and some really strange interest in Jerusalem that is not common knowledge. I can’t interpret the Kaballah so that is probably my sticking point.

  15. Joe Buck

    Sorry, this doesn’t make sense. Israel already has Gaza under a total blockade, preventing anyone from getting at those gas reserves, and going to war doesn’t make it any easier for Israel to get at the gas. Besides, the US is extracting so much gas via fracking these days that there’s a glut, meaning that this is a very bad time to put even more natural gas on the market. Better to leave it in the ground for the future, when American outrage at fracking starts to cut into the production.

    The real reason for the war is that Bibi is up for election soon, and he was behind. Starting a war tends to get the public to rally around the leader.

  16. docjah

    I’m betting that most of “the informed” commentators at this blog are,… about 20-30 years of age. They apparently still think that they have the knowledge and wisdom to really understand “how the world works”. I too “knew everything” during “my youth”. Good luck to all of you “know it alls”! Alas,… you too will awaken one of these days and recognize that the world is far more chaotic than you ever imagined and that conspiracies are quite difficult to execute when so many diverse players are involved.

    1. rob

      It matters not if any observer knows WHY things are happening… an observer of any age can see WHAT is happening…
      Anyone who honestly looks, can see isreal is in the wrong here.After that, whether there is one reason or another… those are just excuses.
      There can be no other answer.a mob boss who only kills the competition to secure a better education of his child… is still a criminal.
      A leadership of a potent,overwhelming army that callously attacks and kills innocent women and children.,while attacking an impotent force that pales in comparison. is a criminal.whether it is to grow state coffers, or spending state funds to keep “the other”,from having a chance.or even to be the first move to engulf bigger friends with bigger ambitions,into the chaos….any of these reasons may mean something to any one of those whimsical personalities ,of which you speak…but really…who cares.the leaders in this world are liars. the courts don’t do anything to leaders who SAY they are innocent..all we have is our ability to discern…to a greater or lesser extent…maybe we are right ,maybe not.history is written by those who win… and whether the truth is told, or a lie is sold…who is to know?

  17. Conscience of a Conservative

    These Israel posts invite and encouage anti-semitism free-for all on the blog. Some how the fact that Hamas is engaging blindly launching missile after missile at Isaeli civilians is unimportant.

    1. jim3981

      I like the term prejudice better than anti-semitism. Jews don’t have a monopoly on prejudice. Anti-semitism is a term designed to get special treatment and put a person of the defensive instead of debating the real issues.

    2. Me

      So if I criticize our government’s economic policy, I am anti-American? If I criticize how the Syrian government has acted, am I anti-Syrian? See how silly this is? When governments and groups do bad things, when massive and disproportionate amounts of killing are done with US tax dollars, expect some criticism from US tax payers. Expect people to talk and for some to be angry. The defenders of Israel can act like bullies at times, they try to muscle people away from discussion and any valid crtiticism of Israel. Ain’t gonna work forever. At some point Israel will have to justify their actions and they may go too far. It is possible that Israel could get itself into such a pickle that we can’t save them. I’m sick of UN votes being 160-2, our government isolated internationally time and time again, too.

      1. tiger

        No. The haters of Israel act like bullies overwhelmingly more.

        And I as an Israeli take FULL responsibility for our actions.

        I take FULL responsibility for the amazing relationship that my grandfather and grand-uncle had with their Arab clients when they distributed dairy products every morning in Arab villages in Israel.

        I take full responsibility for having turned out be to tolerant, because when I was 7 in elementary school someone insulted an Arab girl telling her “dirty Arab” and our teacher grilled him and said that you never ever insult anyone like that.

        I take FULL responsibility for the fact that my country regularly takes in Palestinian Arab patients to our hospitals even though they may blindly hate the doctors who cure them.

        I take FULL responsibility for my country teaching Kenya how to plant food in the desert.

        I take FULL responsibility for my country having invented the cell phone.

        I take FULL responsibility for my country finally stabilizing windows and making it available to consumers as windows XP.

        I take FULL responsibility for the fact that relative to its population, my country is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation.

        And Yes, I take full responsibility….. for these bombings of Gaza… which have resulted in yet another new record low of bystander casualties, not that anything above 0 is good. I wish it were zero, but the numbers are much better than in 2008-2009. We are truly leading the world in systems & procedures to avoid civilian casualties as much as possible.

        I am so proud of that.

        Note that the combatants in Gaza and their rocket launchers were ALL in the midst of residential/civilian areas and that this is already one of the most dense places on earth, and even then, we still managed to achieve, ACCORDING TO HAMAS FIGURES, an approximate rate of 50% combatants and 50% civilians, even with these giant bombs that we drop.

        Is war fun? NO. I hate to see every Palestinan death, even military leaders.

        Does Israel wage war in a way that makes me proud? YES.

        1. Me

          How in the world can you say this, especially if you are saying this FROM Israel? There aren’t voices in the media critical of Israel here in the states. They don’t exist and when people DO criticize Israel they get viciously attacked. Don’t know what the hell you are talking about.

        2. Me

          That is all just wonderful that YOU take responsibility for wonderful things others in your country did. Great. Our country helped develop the internet, yay for us. We also killed 3-6 million people in SE Asia. Us helping to develop the internet doesn’t mean a damn thing as far as human rights abuses in SE Asia or Iraq. I guarantee Nazi Germany made some things they can be proud of, I know our government hired former Nazis to help the government here in Europe and Latin America against the left and we used German engineers after the war to build advanced weapons. Does the engineering developed in Nazi Germany have a damn thing to do with what the Nazis did to Jews, leftists, homosexuals and the like?

          Sorry, but your argument is all over the place. Your country is slaughtering people with my god damn tax dollars and weapons given to your country by my country. My country, in opposition to the rest of the world, is isolated time and time again at the UN and the international arena because of the horrible things your government does to its neighbors. You violate internatinoal law as much as any other country on the planet and have done so for decades, definately since 1967. If you want to be a bully do it alone and defend your damn self!

          “Does Israel wage war in a way that makes me proud? YES.”

          Good for you. Next time Israel loses 10 for every 1 on the other side (most of them civilians, who knows where you get your numbers) come back and talk to us about fairness and how proud you are. Like I said, if the world were just you wouldn’t have the most powerful military on Earth and so much aid from this country to do this. Maybe then you’d have to act like moral human beings instead of the monsters you have become.

  18. jeff larson

    The head of a multicultural university in Jerusalem once said ‘we will only have peace when we love our children more than we hate our enemies.

    1. Conscience of a Conservative

      Or as Leon Charney said when the Mullah’s on Friday and the Rabbi’s on Saturday and the Priests on Sunday preach peace, not war.

  19. henry

    I always enjoy reading these comments.

    But I must say, a first look at Israel requires that you take religion out of it. And, from this perspective, Europeans and a smattering of others from around the world colonized a small patch of land in the Middle East. The people who lived there were dispossessed. The people who moved in built a society beyond the wildest dreams of the dispossessed. And yet, even today, were a representative democracy truly to be instituted, the descendents of the dispossessed would be a majority. And this makes it difficult, because all the systems that have been put in place, from a governmental perspective, from a business perspective, even, from a societal perspective, are a shining light to all the states that surround them, a picture of what success looks like.

    And yet, a true representative democracy cannot be instituted because it is, in the end, a jewish state. In the end, religion cannot be taken out of it. As far as the Palestinians go in asserting a Palestinian state, they are trying to establish something that has never been established. The Israeli’s (ie European colonizers and a smattering of others) have little claim upon the land, but then, neither do the Palestinians, other than they happened to be living there. In the olden days, it would be a simple matter of conquest and the rights of the conqueror. Today, perhaps, it is not so different.

    Israel is an important partner of the US in the Middle East, most vitally in terms of military intelligence and military capacity for action. Whatever economic assistance is provided to Israel, it is more than repaid.

    Until America is free of her dependence on middle east oil, and, indeed, until our trading partners are free of dependence on middle east oil, Israel will remain a close friend.

  20. Conscience of a Conservative

    Can you imagine the missiles Hamas could buy with the revenue of a natural gas field?

  21. David Miller

    I was amused by the Washington Post “Iran pipeline to Syria” article. Since the two countries don’t share a common border, any pipeline would have to go through either Iraq or Turkey. The Post simply ignored that bit of reality.

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