Gaza Blockade – It’s Egypt not Israel!

October 3, 2015

Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. Many of the current restrictions, originally imposed by Israel in the early 1990s, were intensified after June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the imposition of a sc blockade or siege. The situation has been compounded by the restrictions imposed since June 2013 by the Egyptian authorities at Rafah Crossing.

Gaza vs Rafah

Kerem Shalom vs Rafah 2015

Despite restrictions there has been whole time – even during conflicts/wars – movement of commodities as well Palestinians to and from Gaza via Israeli border crossings. During last months movement of goods has increased via Kerem Shalom Crossing at Israeli border to/from Gaza but is almost non-existent via Rafah Crossing at Egyptian border. Besides official border crossings Egypt is now implementing measures which will totally block unofficial traffic aka smuggling.  In my opinion Egypt not Israel is blocking Gaza.


The Rafah Border Crossing

The Rafah Border Crossing lies on the international border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip that was recognized by the 1979 Israel–Egypt Peace Treaty and confirmed during the 1982 Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. The crossing was managed by the Israel Airports Authority until Israel evacuated Gaza on 11 September 2005 as part of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan. It subsequently became the task of the European Union Border Assistance Mission Rafah (EUBAM) to monitor the crossing. Though Israel and Egypt allow limited imports into Gaza, the economy of Gaza largely relies on illicit trade that flourishes via an alternative “tunnel economy.” Hamas enriches itself at the expense of the Palestinian Authority (PA) by collecting tolls from tunnel operators and import taxes on goods brought into Gaza. This second economy increases ordinary Gazans’ reliance on Hamas rule, which most would prefer to see end. Making peace deal only between Israel and the PA does not solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ignoring Gaza further incentives Hamas to oppose peace with Israel and any deal its Palestinian adversaries conclude.

Since former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in June 2013, the Egyptian military has been trying to eliminate the smuggling tunnels beneath the border in the southern Gaza Strip, destroying them and expanding the buffer zone.  Egypt has demolished tunnels e.g. by exploding them, Egyptian army also fires tear gas or throws wastewater inside the tunnels to kill diggers. Rafah crossing with Egypt has been closed almost permanently since October 2014, heavily restricting those who can enter or leave the Gaza Strip. Egypt closed the border after relations soured between the Gazan and Egyptian leaderships after the overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the ensuing crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its followers. Egypt has linked instability in the Sinai peninsula to Gaza causing it to isolate the strip. Since 17th September 2015 the Egyptian army has been pumping large volumes of Mediterranean Sea waters  into the buffer zone that it began building two years ago, along 14 kilometers of the Palestinian-Egyptian border. The move is the latest attempt to destroy the tunnels dug by Palestinians under the city of Rafah over the years of the Israeli blockade. (Source and more e.g. in Al-Monitor )
rafah_tunnel-e1406588938670 (2)

2014—15 Egyptian demolition of homes and terror/smuggling tunnels

In 2008 and 2009, according to media reports and the US Defense Department, the US Army Corps of Engineers trained Egyptian troops to use advanced technological equipment that measures ground fluctuations to indicate tunnel digging. In August 2013, the US Defense Department awarded the defense company Raytheon a $9.9 million contract to continue research and development in Egypt on its version of this technology, which is known as a laser radar vibration sensor.

The tunnels were first constructed immediately after Israel’s disengagement from the Sinai Peninsula, as part of the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt. But digging got more intense after Israel declared a blockade on Gaza after Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian elections. Hamas’s government started to flourish on what economists called the booming “tunnel economy” until current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi joined Israel in trying to destroy it.

In October 2014 Egypt announced that they planned to expand the buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt, following a terrorist attack from Gaza that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers. The buffer was created “in a move meant to halt the passage of weapons and militants through cross-border smuggling tunnels but which also puts more pressure on the Palestinian militant Hamas group.” The buffer zone originally was 500 meters, following the announcement of the expanded buffer zone many residents voluntarily left the area. Ibrahim Mahlab the Prime Minister of Egypt announced that any residents unwilling to move willfully would be forcefully removed from their homes. Between July 2013 and August 2015, Egyptian authorities demolished at least 3,255 residential, commercial, administrative, and community buildings in the Sinai Peninsula along the border with the Gaza Strip, forcibly evicting thousands of people.

On 17 November, 2014, Egypt announced that the buffer zone would be doubling to 1 km due to the longer than expected tunnels discovered, in addition to a night time curfew for the area. On January 8, 2015, Egypt’s expansion resulted in the destruction of about 1,220 homes, while destroying more than 1,600 tunnels. Some tunnels discovered ranged over 1 kilometer long and contained lighting, ventilation and phone systems. In February 2015, in response to the buffer zone, ISIS beheaded 10 men they believed were spies for Mossad and the Egyptian Army. In June 2015 Egypt completed its digging of a ditch by the Rafah Crossings, 20 meters wide by 10 meters deep. (Source and more e.g: Wikipedia )

Over the past months Egyptian military bulldozers have also destroyed many Egyptian homes to create a buffer zone of at between 500 and 1,000 metres on the Egyptian side, and 1,000 metres. Entire neighborhoods have been flattened being gutted.


Egypt floods the rest of Gaza’s tunnels with seawater

According  MEE – Middle East Eye report Egyptian military vehicles are transferring Mediterranean Sea water to the Rafah border, to fill a newly-built crude canal, flooding and destroying the lifeline tunnels connecting Egypt and blockaded Gaza. By canal the Egyptian government is trying to economically crush Hamas, an ally of the Muslim brotherhood. Egypt is planning that sea water will flood into any remaining undiscovered tunnels and completely destroy them. Most tunnels are usually 20 meters deep, and can stretch for three hundred meters inside Egyptian Rafah. Israel also tried to fight Gaza’s tunnels by digging a canal and pumping sea water into the 14 km borderline with Egypt, but due to environmental damage and danger to natural aquifer water systems, it built a separation wall instead; deep into, and above, the ground.

Egyptian military personnel won’t speak openly of the nature of the project, but some local experts have said the aim is to create fish farms. Water pipes can be seen on the Egyptian side of the border-leading from the beach area into the west of the city, to an area filled with supply tunnels. A local water engineer said that pumping sea water into natural clean-water aquifers will increase salinity twenty-fold.

Palestinians inspect the damage after Egyptian forces flooded smuggling tunnels dug beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip September 18, 2015. | Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Palestinians inspect the damage after Egyptian forces flooded smuggling tunnels dug beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip September 18, 2015. | Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Mayor of Rafah, Subhi Radwan believes this could lead to the forced migration of the local population. “The sea water is leaking into the clean aquifer, damaging the ground structure and pure water,” he said. Radwan said that drinking water, for the population, will not be available soon, as dirty salt water is pushed into the already damaged plumbing system of Gaza. “This will also deprive farmers of the ability to plant consumable vegetables and all forms of fresh plants which rely on clean aquifer waters,” the mayor added.

Economic analyst Moein Rajab told Al-Monitor that the pumping of salt water into the tunnels will affect agriculture and render farmlands unproductive as salt levels rise. As such, large tracts of Palestinian agricultural land that stretches along the Egyptian border will be made useless, leading to a marked decrease in agricultural production. Rajab added that soon after, the area’s inhabitants would be forced to leave as the topsoil is destabilized, further exacerbating the current Gaza Strip housing crisis. He explained, “Due to the fact that houses are so close to the border — mere hundreds of meters away — homes will become threatened with demolition or damaged to the point of being unlivable, with their foundations buckling as the earth liquefies. As a result, inhabitants will be forced to abandon their homes, which will add problems and further exacerbate the housing crisis engendered by the scarcity of building materials, blockade and pitiable economic situation.”


The Kerem Shalom crossing

Kerem Shalom in Israel is the main – and now practically only – border crossing to and from Gaza for goods (People are using more Erez crossing in Northern Gaza).   Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is part of the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) agency monitoring and reporting e.g. Gaza’s situation to international community. Its statistics show clearly where movement of commodities to and from Gaza take place. To the text frame below I have collected from OCHA reports the main points about import and export of Gaza through Israel on August 2015:

Gaza Import/Export, August 2015

Gaza Import/Export, August 2015

And here is wider picture of Gaza crossings in infographic:

Commodities Dashboard I


The Kerem Shalom crossing is relatively small and is not enough for the entry of all of Gaza’s needs. An average of 300 to a maximum of 700 trucks enter every day. To increase the truckloads of supplies that enter Gaza from Israel and speed up efforts to rebuild the territory, the Dutch government donated a new security scanner on July 2015. Some 1,000 trucks are expected to cross with the new scanner, according to COGAT and the Dutch Foreign Ministry. (Source. The Times of Israel )


My  conclusions

Hamas’ economic well-being was in large part dependent on its system of smuggling tunnels snaking underneath the Gaza border with Egypt. The supply lines that have fed it cash, arms, goods, luxury items, fuel, and cement for its terror-tunnel industry suddenly were gone. These goods, which were smuggled into Gaza at obscenely low prices at the expense of Egyptian citizens, were no longer flowing in due to the closure of the tunnels. The economy of Hamas is weakening as Egypt has closed main part of over one thousand smuggling tunnels on Gaza border; before that Hamas administration got remarkable income from smuggling activities.

Gaza’s isolation was imposed originally to delegitimize and undermine Hamas’ leadership. Palestinian Authority or better say Fatah was hoping to produce positive economic development in the West Bank which could lead Gazans to overturn Hamas rule. The opposite came true as Hamas’ control grew tighter. During last year there has been talks about national reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. The Hamas-Israel dialogue is the last example that instead unity the split between Hamas and Fatah as well between the West Bank and Gaza Strip is even wider than before.

This situation can at best to lead long-term cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Part of deal is lifting of an eight-year blockade placed on the Gaza Strip, less restriction for goods and people to go over border, importing goods to Gaza through a Cyprus port overseen by NATO representatives (until a floating offshore port can be developed). Hamas-Israel Deal could pave way for the ‘Cold Peace Solution’ and beyond. (More in Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal )

EU claims that imaginary Gaza blockade is the reason for slow reconstruction in Gaza strip while the main reason is corruption and misuse of funds. (More e.g. in Instead of Gaza’s Reconstruction Donor Aid Finances Terrorism And Corruption ). Besides emergency relief the international community gives also huge donations for capacity building activities. One problem however is that the impact of the international assistance is poor if not even non-existent in relation to sustainable development. As The Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) concluded “it has been almost impossible to trace any positive impact of these mobilized resources on the ground”. More about MAS analysis in Placebo effect for people and society with 20 bn bucks .

So called Gaza blockade or siege is one of the main causes or excuse – depending from viewpoint – for flotillas, BDS, EU’s labelling plans, anti-Semitism, donations to Hamas, humanitarian crisis etc. Given the facts referred above one could conclude that blaming Israel for blockade is at least unjust.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila



Let’s unite against the project by Al-Qaïda and Daesh by Thierry Meyssan

October 2, 2015

Let’s unite against the project by Al-Qaïda and Daesh


Thierry MeyssanFrench  intellectual, founder and chairman of Voltaire Network and the Axis for Peace  Conference. His columns specializing in international relations feature in  daily newspapers and weekly magazines in Arabic, Spanish and Russian. His last  two books published in English : 9/11 the Big Lie
and Pentagate.

  “In Syria It’s Secularism Versus Religious Extremism”

The conflict which has plunged Syria into mourning is not a war opposing different communities, but a war between two projects for society.

On one side, a modern, secular Syria, in other words, a society which is respectful of ethnic, religious, and political diversity ; on the other, the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, who, since their creation in 1928, have been seeking to re-establish the Ottoman caliphate by means of jihad.

The Muslim Brotherhood claim that they wish to defend and propagate Islam. But their interpretation of the Qur’an excludes any spiritual experience of Allah, thus reducing it to a simple legal manual. They are preaching a religion without God.

From 1954, although the Muslim Brotherhood had assassinated two Egyptian Prime Ministers, the CIA decided to use them to destabilize the Soviet Union as well as to combat the Arab nationalist movements. As a result, Syria was obliged to deal with a murderous cycle of terrorist attacks (1978-82), until the military branch of the organisation was defeated at Hama.

In 1979, the Western powers decided to use the Muslim Brotherhood, with the help of Saudi Arabia, and under the command of Osama Bin Laden, to fight the Communist Afghan government. During the Cold War and afterwards, bin Laden’s men were used as a paramilitary force in ex-Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia), and then in the Russian Caucasus (Chechnya).

In 2005, Qatar took over from the Saudis. With their new sponsorship, the Brotherhood managed to convince some of us that they had changed, and that they were now able to exercise power. David Petraeus, against the advice of the White House, gave his support to the « Arab Spring ». At first won over by this movement, Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Syrians quickly rose in revolt against the Brotherhood.

In 2012, the White House, exasperated, demanded the abdication of the Emir of Qatar and got rid of David Petraeus. The Muslim Brotherhood then placed themselves under the protection of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The situation entered a new phase with Daesh’s decision to proclaim a caliphate, despite the opposition of Al-Qaïda, for whom the time of the caliphate had not yet come. Little by little, the multitude of fanatical groupuscules in Africa and Asia who were inspired by the Brotherhood rallied together under the blood-stained sabre of the « Caliphe ». Terrorism mushroomed. After the political assassinations, after the para-military operations, the Brotherhood began ideological cleansing on a massive scale, purging the Sunni community and massacring all others, until, finally, they reigned only over a vast cemetery. They did not hide their ambition to overthrow all the Arab régimes and to attack us on our own territory.

It’s time to make a true assessment of the activity of the Brotherhood and check our a prioris, which have been based on the lies spread about this unfortunate alliance.

Faced with the uninterrupted tidal wave of jihadists from all over the world, including our own nation, the Syrians have chosen to save their own people before defending their own land. Currently, 12 million of them have been forced to flee the combat zones. 4 million are now refugees in neighbouring countries, while 8 million have been able to seek protection by moving to the territories administered by the Republic. Of the 19 million who have stayed in Syria, almost 500,000 are now in the clutches of the jihadists, spread out across a vast territory.

Since the creation of Baba Amr’s « Islamic Emirate » (2012), in all of the occupied territories, including those administered by the « Free Syrian Army », whom we qualify as « legitimate opposition », schools have either been closed or burned, alcohol is forbidden, women are not allowed to leave their homes without being veiled and accompanied by a man of their family, and polygamy has been legalised. Everywhere, including in countries which are our allies, and whom we call « democratic », the right to vote has been repealed, our common heritage has been destroyed, homosexuals are thrown from windows, and slavery has been re-established. The jihadists kidnap any women they like as spoils of war and abuse them. Children are inducted by force and used as soldiers, kamikazes, or executioners.

Syria is a Republic, in other words, its government serves the general interest under the control of universal suffrage. The fact that the Syrian people participated massively in their elections, and that the results were validated by the diplomats present in Damascus is enough to prove that statement. Since the signing of the Geneva Communique (2012), the Syrian government has scrupulously applied its recommendations, and the country moves every day a little closer to Democracy.

However, we remain blinded by the war propaganda of our allies, like that of the « Syrian Observatory for Human Rights », a London-based branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, or the « National Council », a non-elected assembly dominated by the Brotherhood. Consequently, we continue to accuse Syria of being a dictatorship, of using chemical weapons, or having killed 11,000 of their citizens under torture. And yet, we are not so sure – after the signature of the 5+1 agreement with Iran, the Coalition helped the Syrians to defend Al-Hasakah.

Our resentment towards them is the result of a misunderstanding. We have been persuaded that Syria sought the destruction of the Israeli people. This is untrue. Syrians are a peaceful people. Their only request, in conformity with the pertinent UNO resolutions, is the restitution of the Golan Heights, which are still illegally occupied. President Bill Clinton organised negotiations to this end, which failed only because of the inflexibility of the Israeli party, to which he attested in his memoirs. Syria now awaits the resumption – and closure – of these talks.

By supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, we have opened the gates of Hell. Let’s help the Syrians and the Iraquis to close them again. Let’s answer the appeal of President Putin. Together, let’s defeat barbarism, save civilisation, and re-establish peace.

Thierry Meyssan

Translation Pete Kimberley

Article licensed under Creative Commons


Egypt floods Gaza’s tunnels with seawater

September 28, 2015

Analysts have warned that Egypt flooding Gaza’s tunnels will have serious negative implications for the local environment

Source: Egypt floods Gaza’s tunnels with seawater

Newsflash: First time asylum applicants in the EU-28 by citizenship, Q2 2014 – Q2 2015

September 24, 2015

From official Eurostat pages I found a fresh file – First time asylum applicants in the EU-28 By citizenship, Q2 2014 – Q2 2015 – which might surprise many who think that the question is only about Syria.


One interesting detail: Last 12 months there was four times more asylum seekers from Kosovo than from Ukraine – where same time has been some kind of civil war ongoing anyway.  However Eurostat does not include Ukrainians fled to Russia – some one million, including 90,500 Ukrainian orphans in Russia at this moment.

infografik-fluechtlinge-aus (3)Many EU countries have blamed Hungary for its hard policy and actions related to ongoing refugee crisis in EU.  However Hungary started its actions already early 2015 when Kosovo Albanians started their mass exodus to EU although their southern fence and increased staff on border materialized now when the most refugees are coming from MidEast.  More about this early stage in  The Mass Exodus of Kosovo Albanians  . 

Related to Syria Russia’s Federal Migration Service says that there are now 12,000 refugees from Syria in the Russian Federation, of whom 2,000 have received residence permits. There are far more people in Syria who would like to come Russia, including most prominently, the 100,000 Circassians, whose ancestors Russian officials expelled 150 years ago.

One more note:  EU likes to blame Russia about everything.  However  refugees are consequence of Western attack to Afganistan and Iraq and Western support to Syrian terrorist groups – Daesh (ISIS) as the most brutal example. 

Constructive Unilateralism: Leftist Approach to Israel-Palestine Conflict

September 16, 2015
One provocative view to issue

One provocative view to issue by

Throughout two decades of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” direct negotiation has been perceived as the only paradigm that can lead to an agreement. But that paradigm has made direct negotiation as the goal in itself instead of the means to reach an agreement. Further, the failure to reach an agreement has given excuses to the rejectionists and extremists on both sides, allowing them to blame the other party for failure to progress, and destroying the belief within the respective societies that an agreement is possible in the foreseeable future.

With this history the only conclusion to solve Israel-Palestine conflict is to find a new approach to the peace process. Recently Israeli Left has done exactly that.

Some background

A couple of decades the international community has preached a doctrine of ‘Two states for two peoples’, without any progress for its implementation. Sure also in my opinion a two-state solution might be possible. The final status agreement has been very close at least since Beilin-Abu Mazen understandings/agreement/plan (1995) where nearly all issues were agreed. The Olmert proposal (2008) was probably the last serious try. (both plans can be found from my document library   ) The parameters of the end-game have been clear the whole time but despite of a number of negotiations the final agreement is missing.



On 10th Sep. 2015 Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again told David Cameron that he is ready to return to peace talks with the Palestinians without pre-conditions, during their meeting at 10 Downing Street: “I want to say here in 10 Downing Street, and reaffirm again, that I am ready to resume direct negotiations with the Palestinians with no conditions whatsoever … and I’m willing to do so immediately,” said Netanyahu according BICOM.

b-zn0a5wkae2wn8Same time the actions of European Parliament do not have any sense of reality. EU’s motion of labelling Israeli goods from the disputed territories is giving supporting message to the growing anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish sentiments in Europe, while EU instead should promote cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. When the whole MENA region risks falling into an abyss of war and genocide EU choose to attack the only stable democracy in the region, namely Israel. And this attack even does not help Palestinians as its effect might be totally opposite. (P.S: more background in “Top Priority of EU Foreign Policy: A New ‘Jude’ Badge” ) Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that the EU motion [EP 10th Sep. 2015] was “discriminatory with a sharp smell of boycott,” adding that “under the guise of a technical procedure, this is an attempt to force a diplomatic solution instead of encouraging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.” EU claims that imaginary Gaza blockade is the reason for slow reconstruction in Gaza strip while the main reason is corruption and misuse of funds. (More e.g. in Instead of Gaza’s Reconstruction Donor Aid Finances Terrorism And Corruption and a wider picture about non-existent skills of Palestinian authority to deliver international donor aid to beneficiaries one can find from my article Palestine – Placebo effect for people and society with 20 bn bucks)


Leftist options

With background described above the only conclusion to solve Israel-Palestine conflict is to find a new approach to the peace process. Recently Israeli Left has done exactly that.

Leader of the Israeli opposition – and Labor/Zionist Union – Isaac Herzog has proposed to divide the land between the Israelis and Palestinians. Following a quote from interview of Isaac Herzog in Fathom :

I speak in a very frank and open manner. I believe that Israel must move for peace. We must move towards the division of the land between the Palestinians and us in order to maintain the future of Israel as a Jewish democratic state. I say this very bluntly. For example, on the issue of Jerusalem, I don’t rule out the possibility that as part of a political solution there will be government institutions of the Palestinian state in one of the Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. I don’t think that violates our loyalty, love and affection for Jerusalem. In the eastern Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem there reside over 300,000 Palestinians. They are not seen as part of Israel, and rightly so. I think that we need to be innovative and bold and tell the truth to the people. Part of the truth is that in order for Zionism to prevail and to succeed we must make sure that Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim will be part of Israel for ever. This needs to be done by way of a swap of land with the Palestinians. If we reach an agreement to separate from the Palestinians, this will be a victory for Zionism.

Already 2012 then Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that Israel should consider imposing the borders of a future Palestinian state, becoming the most senior government official to suggest bypassing a stagnant peace process.

More recently Zionist Union MK Hilik Bar, who heads the Knesset Caucus to Resolve the Arab-Israeli Conflict, unveiled a proposed diplomatic framework, which he says would resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Bar’s framework calls on Israel to first recognise a Palestinian state at the United Nations, so long as the Palestinian Authority (PA) agrees not to use such status to undermine bilateral talks and accepts the concept of two nation states. Negotiations would then ensue over borders, Jerusalem, refugees and security arrangements. In addition to direct Israeli-Palestinian talks, Bar envisages that Israel would simultaneously enter into dialogue with other Arab countries and issue a formal response to the Arab Peace Initiative. Lähde: BICOM

These initiatives are however in my opinion too general; fortunately for peace there is now also two options which go further in seeking solution for Israel-Palestine conflict.


‘it’s in our hands’

Omer Bar-Lev is an MK for the Zionist Union. He was a commander in one of the IDF’s elite units – Sayeret Matkal – before becoming a high tech entrepreneur and an MK in 2013. In a speech Bar-Lev gave in the Knesset to mark the 37th anniversary of the Entebbe operation, to which he participated, he said that we need a diplomatic Entebbe, meaning that the entire Entebbe operation was built around improvisation and initiative. In that same speech he said to the prime minister:

Take an example from your brother [commander in Entebbe, killed in action there]. The operation in Entebbe was an expression of the Zionist spirit to move forward always, never to be passive and never to be dragged into situations beyond our control; to be bold, innovative and creative. Where is all that now? Even Israel’s approach to security lacks creativity. It lacks initiative. (Source : Al-Monitor )

Smart-Quotes-39823-statusmind.comAccording Omer Bar-Lev the basis of the vision of Zionism is that Israel should be the homeland for the Jewish people. In order for that to be achieved, there has to be a clear Jewish majority in Israel. As long as Israel wants to be part of the enlightened Western world – part of the democratic world – it must give equal rights to all human beings living in the borders of the country. To keep the Zionist vision alive, Bar-Lev proposes that Israel has to separate from the Palestinians as now, Israel is controlling, one way or another, 2.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank who don’t have equal rights and who don’t vote for the Knesset. His conclusion:

If Israel wants to be a democratic state, which it does, then it has to either grant them full citizenship rights, which will subsequently destroy Zionism (one state for two nations) or separate from the Palestinians (two states for two nations). In that case, Israel can keep the Zionist spirit. Then, it is for the Palestinians to decide to create their Palestinian State, which is in their interests and they will make their own decisions.

Bar-Lev calls his program as ‘it’s in our hands.’ According him to achieve separation,

the best way to do it is through an agreement with the Palestinians, for sure. The two sides would agree to make their compromises, sign an agreement, and peace and love will reign forever. However, the probability of both sides, simultaneously, producing leaders who can make that strategic decision, and that strategic compromise, is very low. Israel cannot put its future in the hands of the other side. If we had a partner, then great, we should make an agreement and move forward and sign a two-state solution. However, even if the other side is not prepared to do so, Israel has a lot of steps it can take to begin the separation from the Palestinians. Therefore, I called my initiative – ‘it’s in our hands.’

Omer Bar-Lev represents a three step program to implement the separation:

  • The first step would be to stop building settlements outside the blocs. It is not in Israel’s interest . I’m not sure when the new future will come, either in one year or 10 years, but when it will come, these settlements will not be part of Israel.
  • The second step is to pass a bill in the Knesset to compensate any Israeli settler living outside of the blocs, once he or she decides to resettle in Israel. In order to do so, we have to build the infrastructure within Israel; we have to relocate tens of thousands of settlers and this will take time.
  • A third step is to enlarge the areas of the West Bank where the Palestinians hold full responsibility and formal independence.

(Source: Fathom )

The plan titled “It’s in Our Hands,” by Omer Bar-Lev calls for Israel to unilaterally define its own borders to ensure its security, would keep control of all of Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley and bequeath about 60 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians, evacuating 35,000 Jewish settlers — less than 10 percent of the total. This plan might be provocative but for me it seems to be realistic tactic towards two-state solution.


Constructive unilateralism

According to the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) policy recommendations a couple of years ago, Israel must apply a top-down and bottom-up approach to the conflict, two efforts simultaneously: 1) Continue to pursue negotiations; and 2) Preparation of a viable, national-scale plan to relocate up to 100,000 settlers – currently living outside of the settlement blocks and in areas Israel will eventually withdraw from – within Israel proper in a compassionate, well organized way. (More in INSS publication ‘The Political Process: Plan A, Plan B, and What Lies Between Them’ by Udi Dekel, Anat Kurz, and Gilead Sher )

headerENGAn Israeli NGO Blue White Future,(“BWF”) is a non-partisan political movement founded in 2009 by Admiral (ret.) Ami Ayalon, the former Director of the Israel Security Agency, Colonel (res.) Gilead Sher, a prominent advocate and former senior peace negotiator, Orni Petruschka, a hi-tech entrepreneur and former IAF fighter pilot. Blue White Future seeks to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a “two states for two peoples” solution by facilitating the relocation of settlers so that all Israel’s citizens reside within secure permanent borders that guarantee a Jewish majority. BWF also seeks to advance the processes necessary to meet this goal, through the projects it runs and through its proposed policy plan, and thus provide security and prosperity for generations to come.

According BWF  Israel should prepare for a reality of two states for two people, most notably by declaring that it does not have claims of sovereignty over most of the occupied territories, and by planning and acting accordingly, including preparing for the relocation of settlers residing east of the separation barrier to Israel proper.  Specifically, its policy should include the following components (Source: BWF ):

  • • Israel should consistently strive for a permanent agreement according to the principles of the Clinton parameters and other like-minded proposals, while pursuing an unconditional track, independent of any progress that may take place through negotiations.
  • • Israel should refrain from building new settlements and from expanding existing settlements east of the separation barrier and in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Construction could continue in the settlement blocs and in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
  • • Israel could consider transferring areas east of the barrier to Palestinian control in a gradual, monitored and supervised manner. [Note that this part requires coordination and therefore is optional].
  • • Israel should enact a law that allows for voluntary evacuation, compensation and eventual absorption of settlers presently residing on the eastern side of the security barrier, to encourage settlers who wish to relocate within the green line or within settlement blocs, regardless of whether an agreement with the Palestinians is concluded.
  • • Israel should prepare a national plan for the absorption of the settlers who would relocate to Israel proper, whether before or after an agreement is signed.  Such a plan should have urban, vocational, social, psychological and other appropriate components.

The Palestinian Authority has already taken constructive unilateral steps by seeking United Nations recognition as a state and building the institutions of statehood in the West Bank. Neither action contradicted the two-state vision. Although many Israelis and the Obama administration objected to the bid for statehood, it could have moved us closer to that outcome had Israel welcomed it rather than fought it. After all, Israel could negotiate more easily with a state than with a nonstate entity like the Palestinian Authority. And statehood would undermine the Palestinians’ argument for implementing a right of return for Palestinian refugees, since the refugees would have a state of their own to return to.

Example from history - 2015

Example from history – 2005

BWF proposes that the international community should adopt a paradigm that allows all stakeholders – Israel, Palestinians, the US and the other players – to take independent steps that will advance a reality of two states. Once the parameters are on the table, any independent step taken in the future can be clearly evaluated regarding whether they moves us closer to the reality of two states, and are thus considered constructive, or take parties further away.

For example, according BWF, a long-term truce between Fatah and Hamas, allowing for the rehabilitation and reconstruction in Gaza while preventing arming, is a positive step; a resurrection of Palestinian violence is evidently in the wrong direction. Similarly, an Israeli cessation of settlement activity outside of the settlement blocs, as well as preparing for the relocation of the settlers who currently live there, are constructive steps, while expansion of settlements outside the large blocs is not.


My conclusion

The components of Two-State solution have been roughly clear last two decades – see ‘Parameters of the Israel-Palestine Conflict’ on the beginning of this article – but the final agreement is still missing. The international pressure might lead to talks or negotiations again, with or without outside facilitators, but probably with the same outcome than earlier. So from my perspective a new approach is needed and both Israeli leftist initiatives – ‘it’s in our hands’ by Omer Bar-Lev and ‘Constructive unilateralism’ by Blue White Future – are steps forward and in my opinion also to the right direction.

If two-states solution can not be negotiated between shareholders and when one-state option in my opinion would destroy Israel as ‘Jewish homeland’ so there is possibilities to make regional solution – I have long propagated the idea of the “Three-State-(return) Option” ( e.g. in ”The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict” ) or to support local unilateral solution. If peace negotiations don’t start, they fail again or regional solutions can’t be realized this time so from my viewpoint Israel could independently implement what I have called a ‘Cold Peace Solution’, a minimal level of peace relations, where Israel would annex main settlements from West-bank inside the security fence and return to negotiations about other than so solved border issue when both parties feel need to make a long term deal. This solution in my opinion is the best way forward and it even might be possible to implement. If unilateral solutions are made in the framework of constructive unilateralism so this approach might be the right roadmap towards more permanent two-state solution. Not so bad option compared status quo anyway from my perspective.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila

Jeremy Corbyn on NATO & Ukraine

September 10, 2015

Comeback of South Stream?

August 29, 2015

grafik In my article Turkish, Greek And Tesla Streams Re-routing Energy Supply In Eastern Europe how new Turk(ish) Stream pipeline is re-routing the energy supply in whole Eastern Europe with Greek and Tesla [Balkan] Stream gas pipelines. South Stream, was cancelled last December (2014) after Bulgaria (influenced by the EU acting on behalf of the US) made it impossible to construct the pipeline through its territory. South Stream project was replaced with ‘Turkish Stream’, the Russian pipeline to Turkey’s Eastern Thrace region and from there with ‘Greek’, ‘Tesla’ (or ‘Balkan’) Streams intended to South Stream’s Serbian, Hungarian, and Austrian partners, but detouring through Greece and Macedonia to compensate for the exclusion of Bulgaria.

At the same time, several observers say that South Stream has a good chance of being revived. Since there’s been no official cancellation of the South Stream cooperation from Moscow, Bulgaria assumes that the project can still be saved. Speculation about a revival appears to have come from a source in Moscow. Russia needs the pipelines as a tool to assert political pressure. And Bulgaria could play a role in these plans. (Source: DW ).

European nations could buy gas from a terminal at the Greco-Turkish border, in what was interpreted as a vague hint that such purchases could either be LNG or possibly even the start of a brand new pipeline. Anyway with these plans Turk(ish) Stream and its follow-ups are according EU regulations. The obstacle of South Stream was the EU’s Third Energy Package (TEP). Under these rules, a single company cannot own the pipeline through which it also supplies gas.

Comeback of South Stream

Now though, according Deutsche Welle there’s a different tone between Moscow and Sofia. Earlier this week, Putin acknowledged that Bulgaria’s NATO membership is a done deal. “We have to respect the choice of the Bulgarian people and continue to work with Bulgaria, independently of all the difficult questions in connection with different projects, including South Stream,” he said. Putin added that Russia and Bulgaria have historically enjoyed close ties. In Bulgaria, his words have been taken as a “clear signal of reconciliation” and “a completely new tone in bilateral relations.”

According Natural Gas Europe Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova has announced new efforts to push forward with South Stream, recently telling local media the project still remains a major goal for the country. She also said that the country’s has never walked out of the South Stream project. Kiril Domuschiev, head of the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria, noted that pipework for South Stream could also be used for Turkish Stream or any other project involving both Bulgaria and Gazprom. He added that no one would stop Bulgaria from doing business with Russia.

No other country lying on the proposed route of the pipeline from Russia to central Europe is better prepared than Bulgaria in technical and organizational terms to start the construction works immediately, said Bulgaria’s former Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev who is deputy chairman of opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).  Another big advantage for Bulgaria is the availability of an agreed funding mechanism for the project which doesn’t involve budget spending and only needs to be activated, Stoynev said in comments after Putin’s earlier statement that Moscow will work closely with Bulgaria on the implementation of joint projects including those in the energy sector such as the South Stream gas pipeline. (Source: )

Energy expert Professor Atanas Tasev said in an interview for FOCUS News Agency , that “Both countries [Bulgaria, Russia] seem to have the intention. It remains Brussels to come out with a stance on the matter. Perhaps we will witness favourable processes in resolving the conflict in Ukraine,” “Many steps should follow from now on,” he added and stressed that the first official reaction from the Bulgaria came from Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova, who said that our country is ready.

“A problem can be solved only in the environment where it was created. Since it was the Russian President who created the problem, it is he who can solve it,” Prof Tasev, who has worked as a financial analyst for a number of deals in the Bulgarian energy sector, believes. He maintains that the route previously designated for South Stream is not “a result of some sentiments for the Bulgarian-Soviet fellowship” but is the most economically and technically viable solution. At the same time the professor notes that it is highly unlikely that South Stream is “reborn” with all of the four lines. He foresees that one of the pipes, with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas, might reach Europe via Turkey, while the others could be “redirected” to Bulgaria. (Source and more at )

Nine months after Russia loudly announced that it repeals the South Stream project, the Bulgarian government continues to carry out activities on construction of the pipeline. In addition the joint Bulgarian-Russian company South Stream Bulgaria, which had to build the pipeline on Bulgarian territory, continues to exist and accumulate costs. (Source: Radio Bulgaria )

Nonetheless Greece, FYROM, Serbia, and Hungary are on the verge of signing a joint memorandum of cooperation on Turkish Stream and its Balkan route. Serbian media have already named part of the route as the “Tesla Pipeline” in an obvious attempt to “nationalize” the section that will pass through Serbia. Insiders suggest the Greek, Serbian, and Hungarian foreign ministers will meet in Belgrade in September to announce an agreement that will see the exact route formalized. It should be noted the foreign ministers, not energy ministers, have taken the lead on this file. (Source: Natural Gas Europe ) Latest developments with Tesla Stream wouldn’t have been possible had Macedonia not beaten back the Color Revolution attempt that aimed to sabotage the entire thing. (More in Terrorism in Macedonia Wasn’t An Isolated Act! ).


For Eastern Europe there is also a project called Eastring will bring gas from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Cyprus and Russia and will provide reverse deliveries from the gas hubs in Western Europe. This is actually a step towards the creation of a vertical gas corridor which is particularly valuable to Bulgaria.

Eastring would connect infrastructure in Slovakia to Romania and Bulgaria. Slovakia has taken the lead on the project and even suggested connecting to Turk Stream. Bratislava wants to be part of Gazprom’s plans to diversify transit options away from Ukraine because Slovakia is the critical link between pipelines in Ukraine and central Europe. The Slovakian company Eustream’s gas pipeline, expected to deliver gas to countries in the Balkans, and Gazprom’s Turkish Stream will be complementary projects, Eustream’s international development and public affairs head told RIA Novosti [on Feb. 2015]. Eustream’s Eastring pipeline will run from Bulgaria to Romania and then, via Hungary or Ukraine, to Slovakia. Its planned capacity will be from 20 billion to 40 billion cubic meters per year and project partners are Eustream, Transgaz and Bulgartransgaz.

Wider picture

Aside from production, the transportation of crude oil, natural gas and petroleum products is of paramount concern for oil-producing nations. For energy consumers, transit routes are necessary lifelines. A huge amount of the world’s energy is transited through pipelines, across the Eurasian landmass in particular. Natural gas has limited and expensive transport options. As a result, natural gas pipelines are constantly used as tool of the political pressure and bargaining. One of the most notable battlefields is the European continent, where Russia has exerted its influence through an intricate network of pipelines.

There is a strategic cooperation in the energy sector between EU and Russia as Russia is still the primary supplier of the EU’s hydrocarbon resources, providing 42% of its imported gas and 33% of its imported oil (2013). In addition due global warming the EU want to increase the share of renewable resources and natural gas in their consumption patterns. Russia’s bad relations with the West and Ukraine have created the need to Russia to rearrange its energy policy. From the Russia’s point of view Turkey, as a regional power with its independent policies, e.g. when deciding not to partake in the Western sanctions against Russia due to the Ukraine Crisis, is a more reliable partner than other alternatives. Cooperation between these two regional powers on issues related to Caucasia and Central Asia would generate mutual benefits so indeed the Ukraine Crisis may have paved the way for a new form of cooperation in Russian-Turkish relations.

The Continent has also taken steps to build a regulatory environment conducive to the new energy market it envisions. The Third Energy Package has played a key role in coordinating the European energy market and eroding monopolistic tendencies plaguing the natural gas networks. Among other things, the package’s regulations prevent pipeline operators from supplying natural gas and prevent suppliers from operating the pipelines. These rules have blocked Gazprom from owning or heavily investing in any European pipelines, with a few notable exceptions, such as the Ostsee-Pipeline-Anbindungsleitung pipeline. Europe has applied equal scrutiny to deals involving non-Russian companies, including Azerbaijani national oil company SOCAR’s proposed purchase of Greek pipeline operator DESFA.

Interactive: Veins of Influence


Interactive: Veins of Influence is republished with permission of Stratfor.”


Turk Stream update

The Gapzrom-led Turk(ish) Stream pipeline project has stalled as negotiations between Russia and Turkey on gas pricing have broken down. On July 2015 the Russian Energy Ministry sent to Ankara two versions of an intergovernmental agreement on the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, proposing to construct either one or all four planned strings.

The technical director of South Stream Transport B.V. Andrey Fick has been appointed as general director of the company in charge of construction of the Russia-owned Turkish Stream gas pipeline, Russian energy giant Gazprom announced in its statement, April 2015.

Related to The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the Project benefits from the data available from the extensive surveying and approved EIA, and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) in accordance with international financing standards, conducted for the South Stream Offshore Pipeline project. The EIA and permitting process for the Turkish portion of the offshore pipeline is divided into two parts. South Stream Transport is conducting an EIA for the portion of the pipeline from the border of the Turkish and Bulgarian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to the Turkish coastline, with a length of approximately 275 km. For the remainder of the offshore route, the EIA was already approved in 2014 in the context of the South Stream Offshore Project.


Bottom line

Gazprom has asserted several times that it will cut off gas transits through Ukraine by the end of the decade. The current alternative routes (Nord Stream + Belarus), however, only present a capacity of 86.5 bcm per year. To maintain the current level of Russia’s exports (119 bcm in 2014) at least 35 bcm of additional pipeline capacity would be needed.

Turk Stream as well South Stream, would enhance the Continent’s energy security because it would enable natural gas flows to Europe to continue uninterrupted in the event of a fallout between Ukraine and Russia. The pipeline project would also incentivize European Union-based companies to invest in infrastructure in Southeastern Europe, integrating countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, into the more mature natural gas markets in Central Europe. New infrastructure for Turk Stream could also eventually carry Iranian or Central Asian natural gas to Europe. Due political reasons USA and EU probably are not very pleased nor active with Turk Stream, they maybe are tolerating the project so long as Russia adheres to the Third Energy Package and finalized Energy Union Package rules restricting Russian control over the Turk Stream project.

turkishstream (2)



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 221 other followers

%d bloggers like this: