Friday, 18 July 2014

Why There Will Be No Immediate Peace between Israel and Gaza.

'We Palestinians and Israelis have experienced many destructive wars and the result is always the same: more deaths, more terrible injuries, more bloodshed, more animosity and more hatred. What do we expect to be the result of any war?
The current conflict has led to at least 260 people being killed, more than 1,600 severely wounded, more than 2,300 Israeli air strikes, more than 1,300 rockets fired from Gaza and at least 600 houses and institutions demolished and destroyed'.As a father who lost his children in Gaza, I call for an end to this bloodshed, The Guardian Friday July 17 2014
The conflict is intractable and set to continue because religious and ethnic divisions, as well as the history of mistrust and enmity, is being intensified by a psychopathological struggle for the offshore gas off the Eastern Mediterranean that Israel wants a Hamas led Gaza to have no stake in.

Israel was emboldened enough by the prize of gas discovered by British Gas in 1999 off the coast of Gaza back in 2008 to want to destroy Hamas. Analyst Mark Turner, argues Israel sought by its siege and military attacks to want to "eliminate Hamas" and prevent any alliance with the PA in the West Bank.

With the discovery of the Leviathan and Tamar gas fields in 2010, Israel is set to be self sufficient in gas for 50 years and to be in a position of both energy independence and to export as LNG at least 40% of its reserves to the global market. This should put Israel in a commanding position.

Moreover, by being a major gas producer the EU states would have no substantial objection to Israel doing as it requires in Gaza, having already turned a blind eye to General Sisi's 2013 coup in Egypt and the strengthening once more of security and energy interests.

Hamas is not going to be allowed any benefit from the offshore gas off Gaza via Western influence either. This is one essential reason both the US and Britain remains largely indifferent to the current crisis and repeats stock phrases about 'Israel's right to defend itself'.
The gas field ( as with that off Egypt ) was discovered by the BG Group which holds the license and Both Tony Blair as Special Envoy to the Middle East Quartet and John Kerry believe could be used to fund the Fatah controlled West Bank, despite the fact the gas reserves lie off Hamas controlled Gaza.

Blair is employed mostly as an advocate of energy and business interests and because he has a talent for high sounding platitudes that make it appear as though there is a peace process “There will be.. no trust on either side between Hamas and Israel. That is not going to happen in the immediate term and possibly ever,”

Israel wants to tap this gas irrespective of the Palestinians in Gaza and so it the with the area cut off from Egypt and Iranian supplies it is more isolated than as ever before. The West seems content to let Israel get on with the job. Only Turkey has been vocally critical of Israel's military incursion into Gaza.

EU ministers have discussed the role of Israeli and Cypriot gas as part of their strategy of energy diversification, something given greater urgency following the crisis and conflict in Ukraine and Russia's attempt to check a Qatar-Turkey gas pipeline by backing Assad in Syria against the Sunni jihadists supported by the Western Powers.

Britain stands to benefit as the BG Group's dominant position in the offshore Egyptian gas field concession means it could play a key role in importing gas from Israel into Egypt, a prospect that could restore confidence after what William Hague called the "turbulence" of political events in 2013.

Egypt needs gas imports after its domestic supplies peaked and in order to fuel economic growth once more. As Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Sherif Ismail stated on July 6 “Whatever is in Egypt’s interest must be implemented immediately as we are dealing with an energy crisis”.

This explains why Israel and Hamas have refused to back down in the July 2014 conflict. Israel realises Hamas is weak due to the combined impact of the Egyptian coup, which removed the Muslim Brotherhood as a regional player, and the Syrian Civil War which has led sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia.

Israel wants to press home its advantage and crush Hamas the better to get it to give in and sue for peace wholly on Israel's terms. If Hamas chooses not to, Israel is indifferent. It has no interest in a Hamas Gaza benefitting from the gas wealth ( which it fears could be used to fund terrorism against it).

Yet for Israel the blood price is minimal so far and Bloomberg reported that the IDF military activity has had no impact upon shares in the leading Israeli energy firms such as Delek Group Ltd and Avner Oil Exploration, in fact, on the contrary, their share prices have increased.

Israel faced a potential energy crisis until 2010. As Egypt has too, the determination to deal with Islamist insurgents in Sinai and Hamas is part of a drive towards a mutually beneficial partnership in which security comes first and then the gas riches believed to be a 'Gift from God'.

The danger for Israel and for Gaza is that the failure of Hamas could lead to the rise of rival Islamist groups aligned to ISIS as Salafist entities such as Al Dalwa Al-Islamia try to propagate their role in the rocket attacks, having claimed to have led one against the town of Bnei Netzarim.

Should ISIS affiliates in Gaza link up with those in Sinai, the struggle could blow up into a broader regionwide conflagration set to get worse under the impact of increased global heating and recurring drought, economic collapse, resource struggles, overpopulation and male unemployment.

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