LEXIT – The Left Exit

June 29, 2016

lexitI invite all people who share the need for Lexit (= left exit) to join our discussions and campaigns and spread the Lexit Appeal!  The text below and signing the petition in address: http://lexit-network.org/appeal


Democracy and Popular Sovereignty instead of Neoliberal Integration and a failed Euro-System

This document was commonly developed by people from the Lexit Network. It was written and agreed before the Brexit referendum and was not intended to influence the popular vote one way or another.

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With the implementation of the European single market and the Maastricht Treaty, European integration was established as a neoliberal project for the long run. The Stability- and Growth Pact, the fundamental freedoms of the single market and the European monetary union, among other elements, constituted a framework that has fueled austerity policies, the dismantling of workers’ rights and the welfare state and imposed privatization throughout the EU member states.

Contrary to the theory of the EU as a neutral level playing field, the events after the Great Recession (2007/2009) have shown that the current European integration project is defined by the regressive nature of its treaties and by an unprecedented radicalization of its neoliberal character. Uneven and hierarchical power relations (core – periphery) have long been a feature of European integration, finally culminating in Germany’s dominance of the EU’s economic policy orientations after the Great Recession. The regulatory developments that accompanied the establishment of the Eurozone and the measures taken in response to the Euro crisis through the imposition of ever stricter and ever less legitimated rules and governance structures (EuroPlus-Pact, Firscal Compact, etc.) deepened the authoritarian, neoliberal nature of EU-integration. Thus, the current integration project became a threat to democracy and popular sovereignty.

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The Euro – A Currency of Crises

The Euro crisis is a product of the misconceived concept and architecture of the European Monetary Union (EMU) from its start, focused on austerity and disinflation as its main targets. Instead of leading to a process of economic and social convergence of Eurozone member states, real economic development (in terms of wages, productivity etc.) drifted ever more apart. EMU was finally creating huge macroeconomic imbalances (e.g. increasing current account deficits not only in the southern EU-periphery, but also in France and Italy; huge current account surpluses in Germany and some others) and, in the first stage, led to capital flows from the EU-core to periphery. This flood of cheap money propelled speculative bubbles based on real estate, finance, and the like, and also heavily increased private and public debt.

An important factor behind the imbalances was Germany’s drive to reduce unit labour costs via re-organizing the chains of value creation for Germany’s export industries with cheaper labour from Eastern Europe, wage dumping, tax dumping and social cuts.

A consequence was a huge pressure on weaker economies to increase the international competitiveness of their industries and services. Since in the framework of EMU they could not do so with monetary policy anymore, they proceeded with internal devaluation. In practical terms, this meant dismantling of the welfare state, extensive privatization of public services and structures, wage and social dumping, tax competition, attacks on collective bargaining, attempts to disorganize unions and demonization or extensive lay-off of public workers.

The Euro – A Tool for the Benefit of Finance Capital

It is important to remark that none of this happens because of some unforeseeable construction faults in the Eurozone: The Euro works well in the sense of its neoliberal designers. It works not towards some kind of economic balance among member states, economic growth and full employment. It works towards the destruction of labor rights, social security systems, public sectors and profit taxation and towards the imposition of publicly financed bank-bailouts.

This is how the Euro works in political terms: It pushes its members into ever more downward competition in which the economic position of each member state can only be improved by policies against the majority of the population and for the benefit of international capital. It creates a downwards spiral which brings wages, pensions, social benefits, public employment, public investment, etc. to the bottom.

As the events in Greece in summer 2015 have shown quite clearly, the Eurozone governance structure is not open for policies that follow the democratically expressed view of the majority of people if they run counter to the neoliberal agenda. When the Syriza-led government tried to implement its program – strengthened by the Oxi-referendum – the ECB used its financial weapons to force the government to capitulate and sign another memorandum.

The Euro – A Bad Idea That Cannot Be Turned into a Good One

As has been proven conclusively by countless authors, the Eurozone does not meet the requirements for a functioning monetary area, nor is it to be expected that it will meet such requirements in the future. Among other measures, a functioning monetary area with very different levels of productivity and economic structures, as it is the case in the Eurozone, would require massive financial transfers in order to revert economic imbalances. Reliable analysis show that this would entail the redistribution of some 10% of Eurozone’s GDP from stronger to weaker economies, a step which is not only unfeasible in political terms, but also undesirable: As all precedents in the Eurozone have shown, the governments of donor countries would use this position to influence national policies in recipient countries, trampling on democracy. The last years showed how fast such a system undermines popular sovereignty, divides the peoples of Europe and creates room for xenophobia.

Ultimately, the option of a democratic, federal European state that does not reflect the uneven relations of power among the current member states would require a European civil society that is not given, nor can it be pushed into existence from above.

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Lexit – The Way to Effectively Fight Neoliberalism and Uphold Democracy

Against the background of the alarming loss of democratic rights, dismantling of welfare states and privatization of public goods, the emancipatory forces in Europe need to propose workable, credible alternatives based on popular sovereignty to the current project of authoritarian neoliberal integration. That is why a Lexit (left exit) must be advanced as a tool to reclaim Democracy.

The alarming upturn of the far right in most Euro countries results inter alia from their position against the EU and Euro governance systems. Their political proposals are misleading: Anti-euro right forces for example are fighting for further controls over immigration while do not make any claim for controls over indiscriminate capital mobility to and from countries pursuing policies of downward wage competition. For them, it would be enough to stop free circulation of people in Europe and abandon the Euro area by leaving currencies determined by free market forces and speculation: We could call this horrendous synthesis “xenophobic neoliberalism”.

If we want to avoid this scenario, we need a Lexit: An internationalist alternative based on popular sovereignty, fraternity, social rights and defense of workers’ conditions and the commons.

The unsustainability of the Eurozone is an objective fact. Sooner or later, it will impose a choice of alternative exit routes from the Euro, right wing or left wing, each of them with very different effects on the social classes involved. We explicitly state that the goal of Lexit is to develop emancipatory Left strategies to exit the Euro and to overcome neoliberal integration. The discussion has already begun and several proposals are on the table:

We invite all people who share the need for Lexit to join our discussions and campaigns!


My article related BREXIT and forwards: EU Reaching Cul-De-Sac Due Brexit – Revival Of Confederalism Necessary


EU Reaching Cul-De-Sac Due Brexit – Revival Of Confederalism Necessary

June 25, 2016

When you look into all this bizarre activity of the European Union with its 80,000 pages of regulations it looks like Gosplan. (Vladimir Bukovsky)

Nimetön (97)The EU was and still partly is a bold and unique project. It resembles less that of the United States of America and more that of the Soviet Union. Until the last decade the EU has been more or less a community of democratic nations. In my opinion EU has been moving more and more towards Federalism and in Eurozone even towards Unitary system; from my perspective now is the time make an u-turn and start to develop EU towards (Democratic) Confederalism.

While the USSR was a communist dictatorship the EU has been following its steps last years due a full-on economic crisis. Vladimir Bukovsky a former soviet dissident, once made a comparison: ‘We were told, that the purpose of the Soviet Union is to create a new historic entity, the soviet people, and that we must forget our nationalities, our ethnic traditions and customs. The same seems to be true to the European Union. They don’t want you to be British or French, they want you to be a new historic entity: European.’ There is amazing similarity in decision making between EU and ex-Soviet Union. USSR had also some “democratic” institutions like parliament and government, but the real power was in party machine and its politburo”. Anyway as USSR already went so shutdown of EU has now started due BREXIT and hopefully soon will it be possible to celebrate EU remembrance Day.

 I share in the highest degree the ideas of Abdullah Öcalan’s – leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party -paper on Democratic Confederalism . He e.g. notes

that Democratic confederalism is based on grass-roots participation. Its decision-making processes lie with the communities. Higher levels only serve the coordination and implementation of the will of the communities that send their delegates to the general assemblies. For limited space of time they are both mouthpiece and executive institutions. However, the basic power of decision rests with the local grass-roots institutions.

Although in democratic confederalism the focus is on the local level, organizing confederalism globally is not excluded.

 

From history: The supranational organisation planned by Nazis?

‘In 50 years’ time nobody will think of nation states.’ (Joseph Goebbels)

EU gratuitously got Nobel award as a peace project: to underscore the very reason that it was created on 9 May 1950, which was to limit any future wars or conflicts on the continent (more in my article Devaluation of Nobel Peace Prize Continues But EU Could Show Way For Better Crisis Management ). An alternative history shows that EU is continuation of war with economic means. This view came to my mind while reading about now published secret report about how Nazis were planning the Fourth Reich.

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The document, also known as the Red House Report, is a detailed account of a secret meeting at the Maison Rouge Hotel in Strasbourg on August 10, 1944. There, Nazi officials ordered an elite group of German industrialists to plan for Germany’s post-war recovery, prepare for the Nazis’ return to power and work for a ‘strong German empire’. In other words: the Fourth Reich.detailed how the industrialists were to work with the Nazi Party to rebuild Germany’s economy by sending money through Switzerland.

They would set up a network of secret front companies abroad. They would wait until conditions were right. And then they would take over Germany again. The industrialists included representatives of Volkswagen, Krupp and Messerschmitt. Officials from the Navy and Ministry of Armaments were also at the meeting and, with incredible foresight, they decided together that the Fourth German Reich, unlike its predecessor, would be an economic rather than a military empire – but not just German. The Third Reich was defeated militarily, but powerful Nazi-era bankers, industrialists and civil servants, reborn as democrats, soon prospered in the new West Germany. There they worked for a new cause: European economic and political integration.

Ludwig Erhard (economist) pondered how German industry could expand its reach across the shattered European continent. The answer was through supranationalism – the voluntary surrender of national sovereignty to an international body. German industrialists were also members of the European League for Economic Co-operation, an elite intellectual pressure group set up in 1946. The league was dedicated to the establishment of a common market, the precursor of the European Union. Ludwig Erhard flourished in post-war Germany. Adenauer made Erhard Germany’s first post-war economics minister. In 1963 Erhard succeeded Adenauer as Chancellor for three years.

Germany and France were the drivers behind the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the precursor to the European Union. The ECSC was the first supranational organisation, established in April 1951 by six European states. It created a common market for coal and steel which it regulated. This set a vital precedent for the steady erosion of national sovereignty, a process that continues today. However one should remember that the German economic miracle – so vital to the idea of a new Europe – was built on mass murder and gold looted from the treasuries of Nazi-occupied countries and that a European federal state is inexorably tangled up with the plans of the SS and German industrialists for a Fourth Reich – an economic rather than military empire.

Scientists can argue if this alternative view about EU origins is valid or not, however in my opinion e.g. EU’s actions with financial crisis during last years give cause for claim that this alternative history might be true.

[Source: I have summarized this secret report item from: The secret report that shows how the Nazis planned a Fourth Reich – in the EU by Adam Lebor]

 

European Parliament?

Forgetting EU’s organogram as illusion and speaking today’s reality one can easily find different decision making practices in EU depending about importance of issue. Most important core group is cooperation between France and Germany sometimes earlier (pre-€) adding UK to group. Commission of course has great de facto power not only on implementation level but also designing proposals handled in EUs inner cores; the same can be said about bureaucrats in national ministries who are designing policies decided EU meetings at summit/ministry levels.

So where is this leaving European Parliament? It may handle some energy bulb level issues but honestly the whole institution seems to be unnecessary creation only to keep some democratic illusion on show. As EU citizens are not so stupid to keep his institution more than a puppet theatre they show their attitude by low turnout percentage. Before one EU Parliament elections I proposed and argued (in my article Let’s elect Donkey Parliament) why replacing MEPs with monkeys might not be so bad idea. Today EP is practical place to locate some second class politicians for retirement or out to not make any mess in national policy. They also can show good places to get fresh mussels while voters are visiting in EP as their quests. Designing EU policy happens anyway somewhere else.

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EU today

The two dominating trends among EU leaders are to cut losses of players in virtual economy at the expense of taxpayers and to guide EU towards strict federation at the expense of democracy. (Ari Rusila)

In EU today the ‘austerity’ measures are destroying national economies making it impossible for them to ever to pay back those debts created by banksters of virtual economy and their political cabals. At grassroots people have become the victim of parasitic credit capitalism and its unelected institutions. Neoliberal capitalism has been winning ground last 30 years. During last five years emergency economics has made it possible to replace democracy with debtocracy. EU and especially Eurozone today is in condition which was recognized by Abraham Lincoln already one and half century ago as follows:

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me, and causes me to tremble for the safety of our country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed.” (Roberts, Archibald E., Bulletin–Committee to Restore the Constitution, Feb. 1989, p. 6 )

Coming back to present-day EU I see two dominating trends among EU leaders: First is to cut losses of players in virtual economy at the expense of taxpayers and the second is to guide EU towards strict federation at the expense of democracy. Change to this is needed for saving 99 % of people instead saving profits of the rest one per cent. With today’s strategy there is a risk that the combination of economic insecurity and political paralysis has been recipe for an increase in extremism and xenophobia. It is slow motion death spiral of economic collapse. That is the base to my view that people and the real world should be the first priority and not virtual economy, fiscal system, euro or EU elite. In my opinion it is time to whistle game out, collect losses and start new game in Day after Euro/EU context.

It would seem nowadays that the Eurozone leaders have decided to place the region under Martial law. Old principles about democracy, subsidiarity etc are forgotten. From my viewpoint intervene again and again into something that is not going to work in the long run is the wrong medicine.

 

Way forward

England-EU-OutEU Out movement now got big boost due BREXIT.The Britons had their own motivation to pull out from EU as well other populist movements in EU (to keep poor immigrants out, rich ones can buy entrance anyway as usual) and leftist grassroot movements (to stop austerity measures). Whatever reasons are the aim is against EU’s federalist development.

Quite common view is that EU is an opaque bureaucracy cut off from the citizens it was (publicly) intended to serve. The unofficial core and value of EU in my opinion is that EU is a system to protect, favor and facilitate the interests of big economic powers. A steady decline in voter turnout over the past three decades for European elections has lent credence to the idea that citizens feel increasingly estranged from the European project. The crisis appears to be making this worse by prompting politicians to rush through policies that concentrate more power in Brussels with limited public understanding or support.

From my point of view subsidiary principle should be widen so that more legislation should be implemented at national level and those few remaining issues could be decided between governments and implemented by slimmed European Commission and its agencies. With this approach the whole EP could be closed as useless extra body. This outcome – which I have called as EU lite version – is about the opposite to ongoing federalist tendency and indeed I support rebuilding EU with Confederalist approach. This subject I dealt recently with my article My 1st May Manifesto .

The best scenario from my point of view could be some kind of EU Lite version. A bit of similar ”privileged partnership” agreement than planed with Turkey (to keep it out from EU). EU Lite should be build simply to EU’s early basics as economical cooperation area including a customs union, the EU tariff band, competition etc linked to idea of the Common Market. EU Lite could also apply a structure of Confederation. Federalist intentions, the EU puppet parliament and the most of EU bureaucracy should from my point of view put in litter basket together with high-flown statements and other nonsense. In my opinion average citizen does not need EU to decide how wide tires one have in tractor or how big curve bananas can have. Most topics can more democratic way be handled at national level. For international affairs – e.g climachange, civil liberties, development aid – there are lot of official forums as well NGO-cooperation.

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Even I sited Lincoln above I see some benefits with Confederalist view in new desirable politics. Policy-making starts from community assemblies based on the practices of participatory democracy and continues further by interlinking villages, towns, neighborhoods, and cities into confederal networks. Power thus flows from the bottom up instead of from the top down like today. With critical issues – such as human rights, civil liberties, international policy etc political units can adopt a common constitution while the task of central governments would be providing support for all members. Democratic Confederalism is based on grass-roots participation. Its decision-making processes lie with the communities; in conclusion my vision is decentralized society a network of directly democratic citizens’ assemblies in individual communities/cities organized in a confederal fashion.

Sure the scenario above can be seen as Utopian – however from my perspective the process or moving towards that Utopia is the core question.

 

Epilogue

Financial speculators, banksters and EU elite can congratulate themselves for creating such a massive well connected system –called EU that it is hard to break. The citizens have enjoyed from few benefits such as student exchange programme, Schengen area and common agricultural policy which subsidized farmers to produce goods that nobody wanted, dumped excess supply on world markets creating falling incomes for world farmers. The decline of EU as actor in international politics continues with its disastrous European External Action Service (=foreign policy, EEAS) so that the union can concentrate to its core function as distributor of agricultural funds and as aggregate of high-flown statements. The present challenge is, how to distance unsatisfied citizens and state parliaments away from disturbing egocentric and self-governing elite. I hope that grassroots finally will get fed up with this experiment and starts to demand some power back.

My bottom line:

  • People first system after
  • Power flow from the bottom up
  • Money for the people not the banks
  • From private to public money creation
  • Real economy instead of virtual economy
  • Investor risk instead of taxpayers risk

Nimetön (96)

 


Maailman korkein aurinkovoimatorni Negeviin

June 23, 2016

Ariel

80_630_225_ashalim1Keskellä eteläistä Israelia – Negevin erämaassa – pystytetään maailman korkeinta aurinkolämpötornia. 240 metriä korkea Ashalim Tower kerää 55 000 tietokoneohjattavan peilin avulla auringonsäteet tornin huipulla olevaan kiehutuskattilaan – boileriin – jossa veden lämpötila nousee 600 asteeseen. Vesi johdetaan tornin alaosaan, jossa sen energiasisältö muutetaan sähköenergiaksi. Mittaluokkaa kuvaa se, että peilit kattavat 300 hehtaarin eli noin 400 jalkapallokentän suuruisen alueen. Torni näkyy kymmenien kilometrien päähän erämaassa kuin valtavana hehkulamppuna tai majakkana.

Kaavakuva toimintaperiaatteesta Kaavakuva toimintaperiaatteesta

Ruostumattomalla teräksellä päällystettävä torni maksaa 570 miljoona USD, sen rahoittavat General Electric USA:sta, Alstom Ranskasta sekä yksityisyhtiö Noy Israelista. Huipputeknologiaa edustavan tornin on määrä olla valmis v. 2017.

Ashalom Tower tuottaa 121 megawatillaan jopa kaksi prosenttia Israelin sähköntarpeesta puhtaalla energialla, alentaa CO2 päästöjä 110 000 tonnia vuodessa ja voi tyydyttää 120 000 kotitalouden sähköntarpeen.

al15_12_23_4443Aurinkovoimatorneja on jo rakennettu Marokoon, Etelä-Afrikkaan ja Kaliforniaan jossa Mojaven autiomaassa sijaitsee toistaiseksi maailman korkein – 137 metriä – torni. Ashalim Tower on paitsi yli sata…

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Gaza Seaport – A Threat or Change

June 22, 2016

A proposal to provide the Gaza Strip with an outlet to the rest of the world through a man-made island could soon become a reality, Israel’s Intelligence and Transportation Minister Israel Katz said Monday [20th June 2016], according the Jerusalem Post. Although the idea of building this artificial island has been floating around for years, real headway has only been made in the recent months, according to Katz, who estimates the project will cost some $5 billion.

The project would include a 5 km. bridge from the Gaza Strip through Israeli waters and into the planned 8 sq. km. chunk of land, which likely would have a marine port and, eventually, an airport, in addition to a hotel and small port for yachts.

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Gaza island model as presented on June 20, 2016. (photo credit:COURTESY/THE ISRAEL PROJECT)

Hamas has said that among its conditions for a long-term truce with Israel are the reopening of the Strip’s Yasser Arafat Airport and construction of a new seaport. Such an option on existing Gaza land, Katz said, would put Israel’s security at risk and allow Hamas to misuse funds allocated for its construction. According to Katz, the process is still being deliberated by officials who are mainly trying to decide how exactly Israel would be involved in maintaining security at a port that would be internationally funded and secured. The minister said the project would not be built or funded by Israel in any way. Rather, he said, the initiative is more of a statement of support were this plan come to fruition and Israel would allow international entities to enter Israeli waters in order to carry out construction.

Katz acknowledged that the island would not necessarily put an end to weapon smuggling and rocket firings at Israel, but would help the populace to become less radical as it receives a better standard of living and the possibility of traveling and commerce with the rest of the world without Israeli involvement.

In May, Katz announced an initiative that would transfer Turkish goods to Jordan and onward to the rest of the region through Israel via a train route from the Port of Haifa to Beit She’an, which is a 15-minute drive from the Sheikh Hussein Border Crossing into Jordan. Source: Jerusalem Post

New Gaza wall

Up within the Israeli defense establishment, many believe that the time has come for Israel to set up a civilian seaport for the Gaza Strip. According to their view, if Gaza is going to stop exploding into conflict every two years, its 1.8 million residents need to have better hope for the future.

While the new port is part of the defense establishment’s concept of “restraining factors” that Israel can put into place, there is also military counterterrorism measures, to push back the next war for as long as possible.

One such new planed investment is a New Gaza wall. According The Jerusalem Post Israel’s defense establishment plans to build a concrete wall that goes tens of yards underground as well as above ground along the Gaza Strip border. Implementation of the plan will cost an estimated $568 million. The wall is intended to block off any terror tunnels, and will be constructed solely on Israeli soil.

Israel’s plan to block off Gaza above and below ground with security wall has been met with an uproar from Gaza Arabs, who are demanding that the UN intervene and halt construction plans. Gazans have loudly protested the wall, at least partially on environmental grounds.

Egypt's Gaza barrier

Egypt’s Gaza barrier

Sea-based smuggling rising

As Israel sends some 900 trucks per day into Gaza, carrying all manner of goods, medical equipment, food, fuel and construction material, it is hardly enough to keep the Gaza Strip’s economy functional. To get more goods, luxery items and weapons and weapon materials Hamas has used its smuggling tunnels. The original tunnels on Egypt-Gaza border were used to smuggle arms and commercial goods from Egypt to Gaza. Hamas substantially expanded this infrastructure after 2007 and Israel’s imposition of a sc, blockade. At the time, it is estimated that there were as many as 2,500 such tunnels running between Gaza and Egypt in the area of Rafah. There are estimates that as much as $3 billion in goods were moved annually from Sinai into Gaza. However since former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in June 2013, the Egyptian military has eliminated most of the smuggling tunnels beneath the border in the southern Gaza Strip and expanded 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. (More in Gaza Blockade – It’s Egypt not Israel! and Gaza’s Tunnel War Continues On All Fronts )

Tunnel war infograph by Ari Rusila

Earlier in May 2016 security forces announced the arrest of a suspected Gazan weapons smuggler who disguised himself as a fisherman. In a joint navy, Shin Bet and Israel Police operation, security forces said that during questioning, “it emerged that for a lengthy period, he was involved in sea-based smuggling of weapons and other items, for Hamas and other terrorist elements in the Gaza Strip.”

The suspect allegedly smuggled ammunition and liquid fiberglass used to manufacture rockets. Details on Hamas’s operational plans in the Mediterranean Sea also arose in the investigation, the domestic intelligence agency said, including its use of fishing boats to disguise its activities. (Source: Jerusalem Post )

 

Conflicting views related to Israeli security

Would the creation of a seaport enable Hamas to upgrade its weapons smuggling program? According to former navy chief V.-Adm. (res.) Eliezer Marom, the answer is an unequivocal yes:  “In general, my view is absolutely opposed to a Gaza port. It is a certain recipe for Iranian military boats arriving in Gaza. We do not want that to happen.” Hamas, he added, has “very high motivation to smuggle via the sea. It uses fishing boats to smuggle between Sinai and the Gaza Strip,” and the need for sea arms-trafficking routes has grown since Egypt began blocking smuggling tunnels linking Sinai to Gaza. (Source: Jerusalem Post )

But others took a different view. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shlomo Brom, head of the Program on Israeli-Palestinian Relations at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, told The Jerusalem Post that a Gazan port would assist, not harm, Israeli security. Brom, who in the IDF headed the Strategic Planning Division in the Planning Branch of the General Staff, said, “I am among those who support the idea. Without a port, the Gaza Strip will continue to be a pressure cooker housing two million people which explodes every once in a while. There are a few good ideas that enable the operation of a port, with good security supervision, that will prevent it from being exploited to smuggle weapons.”

Such ideas include making every vessel en route to Gaza dock in Cyprus first, where its cargo will undergo a security check. (Source: Jerusalem Post )

 

Wider context

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Moni Chorev, a researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, said the idea of a seaport for Gaza could not divorced from the wider strategic picture. Chorev, a former IDF division commander and former head of the officer training school, told the Post that one must place the Gaza port question in a far wider context. “Since Hamas rose to power in 2007, the Gazan economy has been kept down. Is there room to change Gaza’s economic situation? This question is not only about Gaza, however. If you look at the Palestinians as a whole, one must weigh up how creating economic growth in Gaza will affect [President] Mahmoud Abbas, the PA, and its ability to rule,” he said. That question, in turn, is tied into how Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and perhaps Turkey will interact with Israel and the Palestinians in the coming years, Chorev argued. “If you want to enlist the Egyptians, one must realize that they view Hamas as a sort of extension of their biggest enemy, the Muslim Brothers,” he said. Thus, a port would have an impact on the wider Palestinian, Arab and regional arena.

If Gazans are provided with new hope and an economic horizon, Hamas will be significantly less willing to risk the wrath of the people it controls by launching reckless and costly military attacks on Israel, he said. (Source: Jerusalem Post )

According reports the deal would include the lifting of the blockade on Gaza. According to the reports, Gaza will be allowed to import merchandise through a “floating port” located 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) off the coast. An intermediary port will be established in Cyprus, where all Gaza-bound merchandise will be scrutinized by NATO representatives.

Earlier in August 2015 it was reported in the Times of Israel, that Hamas and Israel have essentially agreed on a long-term cease-fire. Hamas is about to sign a “comprehensive” agreement with Israel for the lifting of an eight-year blockade placed on the Gaza Strip in return for a long-term ceasefire The gist of the deal is that Israel will end the blockade and allow thousands of Palestinian day laborers to enter Israel. Gaza will import items through a Cyprus port overseen by NATO representatives (until a floating offshore port can be developed) and cease all rocket fire and tunneling for eight years. A prisoner swap may be in the works too.  Hamas-Israel Deal could pave way for the ‘Cold Peace Solution’. (More in Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal )

sinai option by Ari RusilaOn November 2015 Jerusalem Post reported   that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was claiming that Israel and Hamas have been conducting direct negotiations to expand the Gaza Strip so that it would include some 1,000 square kilometers of Sinai. At its core, the Egyptian initiative proposes expanding the Gaza Strip to five times its current size and settling all the Palestinian refugees in a state to be established there. Under the initiative, this state will be demilitarized, the Palestinian Authority would be granted autonomy in the Palestinian cities in the West Bank in exchange for relinquishing the Palestinian demand to return to 1967 borders. (More in Sinai Option again )

In my opinion annexing part of Sinai to Gaza as might partly solve Arab-Israeli Conflict. In addition Hamas-Israel Deal could pave way for the ‘Cold Peace Solution’ and beyond. With this context the Gaza seaport is from point of view a positive step forward.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila

Related articles:

Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Gaza’s Tunnel War Continues On All Fronts

Sinai Option again

Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal

Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander

Gaza Blockade – It’s Egypt not Israel!

 


Appendix Aug. 2016:

Asaf Ashar,  Port and Shipping Expert (www.asafashar.com), PhD send me his following analysis and an alternative initiative related to Gaza Port.

Palestinian International Port in El Arish

Background: The establishment of a seaport for Gaza was agreed in the 1993 Oslo Accord and the following 1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum. The construction began in mid 2000, but the port was bombed and destroyed before completion by the Israeli army later this year during the Second Intifada. The 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, following the Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, re-announced the start of the works, but due to the hostility between Israel and the Hamas, it has not been resumed.

Katz Plan: Recently, Israel’s Minister of Transport, Yisrael Katz, proposed the construction of an artificial island, 3 miles offshore Gaza, adjacent but outside the territorial waters, to accommodate a seaport and an airport.  The island will be connected to the mainland by bridges with checkpoints manned by international inspectors to prevent smuggling.  The bridges can be bombed in case of resumed hostility.  The cost of the island is estimated by Katz at $5 billion; others suggested $7 – 12 billion.   Construction time may extend 5 – 8 years.

Katz’s plan is both hugely expensive and operationally impractical: 

  • Area — The proposed area of the island port is way too small for accommodating the modern port required to serve the 4.7 million Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank; moreover, such port is usually supported by a large import/export-related industrial zone adjacent to it. 
  • Road Access — A modern port requires highway access to heavy trucks, which cannot be provided through the congested streets of Gaza City. 
  • Rail Access — Serving the West Bank requires rail connection and large railyards, which cannot be provided in the congested Gaza City area. 
  • Territorial Waters –The width of territorial waters has long been extended from 3 to 12 nautical miles, requiring much longer bridges and deeper-water reclamation, resulting in much higher costs. 
  • Sovereignty — Countries are not allowed to create land in international waters, outside their territorial waters (e.g., the crises in South China Sea). 
  • Ecology — The island may obstruct the littoral (coastal) current, resulting in beach pollution and erosion. 
  • Security — Past experience suggests that inspection by international inspectors is ineffective and expensive.  In case of hostility, there is no need to bomb bridges; Israel could simply blockade ship traffic to/from the port, as is the current practice with fishing boats.

Ashar Plan: Gaza International Port should be part of the expansion plan of the Egyptian Port of El Arish, located near Gaza’s southern border with Egypt.  It is a common practice for countries to neighboring countries with autonomous ports via long-term leases (99 years + extension): Tanzania/Zambia; Peru/Bolivia; and Uruguay/ Paraguay. The total cost of the shore-based port in El-Arish would probably be $300 – 500 million, would take 2 – 3 years to construct, with the Egyptians and Palestinians sharing in the fixed costs: navigation channels, breakwaters, land access.   El Arish has plenty of land for accommodating a Palestinian-leased, port-related industrial zone.  El Arish also could be linked via rail to the West Bank through the Israeli rail system. Since Egypt already controls Gaza’s southern border, there will be no need for additional security arrangements.  The expanded El Arish Port will create substantial regional economic benefits to Gaza and Egypt’s Northern Sinai; both are presently stricken by poverty and insecurity.

And interview here:

Jerusalem Post, 8-2-2016

and updated port plan By Asaf Ashar

Gaza Port in El Arish 5


False Reporting

June 22, 2016

The Independent published a story claiming that Israel had cut off water to Palestinians. Just one problem: the whole thing was a lie. And now they won’t fix it!

Watch the video 

 

Source: Honest Reporting


Israel Govt. Reshuffle Done – Lieberman Instead Herzog

June 1, 2016

imagesHYX6NWROAfter nearly two weeks of political turmoil, Yisrael Beytenu (the Israel Our Home party) leader Avigdor Lieberman sworn in as Israel’s Defence minister on Monday 30th May 2016 – after cabinet and Knesset approval. The main outcome of political drama might be — an expanded right-wing government that can bolster the Likud’s hold on power for a long time. The turmoil is now heading Labor’s way as opposition leader Yitzhak  [Isaac] Herzog’s rivals are putting his ouster in motion, and Herzog will have hard battle to retain his position as Labor leader. In addition Lieberman’s appointment raises questions about direction of Israeli government related to peace process.

New political development started as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Opposition head MK Yitzhak Herzog (Zionist Union) started their talks to bring Herzog’s leftist party into the coalition. The core sticking point between the sides seems to be the diplomatic policies that a joint government would pursue.

According Arutz Sheva Netanyahu refused to allow Herzog to advance his “separation plan” from the Palestinians, which among other things involves cutting off Arab neighborhoods such as Isawiya from the Jerusalem municipality and transferring them to Palestinian Authority (PA) control in a unilateral division of the capital. Herzog has long touted his idea of dividing the capital and making massive concessions, but ironically Netanyahu and his governments have also been accused of enforcing a quiet de facto division of the 3,000-year-old capital of the Jewish people. Aside from the “separation plan,” it appears that Netanyahu was reluctant to give Herzog a free hand in holding peace talks by himself or making announcements about a reduction of construction in Judea and Samaria. According Arutz Sheva Netanyahu’s past two governments have been imposing a covert and informal construction freeze on the region ever since the last failed round of peace talks in 2013.

The reshuffle was triggered last Wednesday [25th May 2016], as instead of announcing a deal with Herzog as many had expected, Netanyahu invited Avigdor Lieberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party, to separate talks aimed at bringing his six Knesset seats into the coalition, which resulted in the appointment of Lieberman as Defence Minister. He replaces Moshe Ya’alon, who has resigned from his post and from Likud.

After Netanyahu/Lieberman agreement last week came new crisis in government as Education Minister and Jewish Home chief Naftali Bennett called for an army official to be assigned to the security cabinet to keep members abreast of important military developments. Jewish Home was prepared to vote against the inclusion of Lieberman into the government if that issue weren’t solved. Indeed the Jewish Home was prepared to split from the government if the reforms were not adopted. After some talks the full cabinet met on Monday 30th and unanimously approved the appointment of Yisrael Beytenu leader and MK Avigdor Lieberman as defense minister and Yisrael Beytenu MK Sofa Landver as immigrant absorption minister and in addition the government members, including party Bennet, receive frequent personal reports of the national security adviser.

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Peace process?

There was a new, although brief, sense of optimism in European capitals that Netanyahu would engage in the beginning of a two-state solution process and restrain settlement expansion. However the horizon darkened again when instead of Herzog’s appointment as foreign minister, Lieberman was appointed defence minister. There is also wider international concerns that the new government would put another nail in the coffin of peace efforts. However Netanyahu has made repeated statements inviting Abbas to meet, saying he is willing to talk with the Palestinian leader “whenever, wherever.” On Wednesday, 25 May 2015, at the signing of the coalition agreements, PM Netanyahu also made the following remarks [according Government Press Office]:

“My government remains committed to pursuing peace with the Palestinians, pursuing peace with all our neighbors. My policy has not changed. We’ll continue to pursue every avenue for peace while ensuring the safety and security of our citizens. I believe the developments in the region have created new challenges for us all. But I also believe that they’ve created new opportunities for peace, and I intend to seize those opportunities. A broader government, a more stable government, will make it easier to do so.”

Immediately following the ceremony, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman and PM Netanyahu reaffirmed their commitment towards a two-state solution and endorsed the possibility of a wider regional peace based on the Arab Peace Initiative. The Arab peace initiative refers to a Saudi-spearheaded plan, which would see a pan-Arab rapprochement with Israel, in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Minutes after being sworn in, Lieberman appeared at a joint press conference with Netanyahu, who said: “I remain committed to making peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbours. The Arab Peace Initiative includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians. We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative.” Meanwhile, senior Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi has been appointed Minister without Portfolio, but will apparently deal with foreign affairs, including any diplomatic initiatives. [Source: BICOM ]

Israeli Foreign Ministry officials travelled on 25th May 2016 to Egypt’s capital Cairo on a two-day visit to lay the ground work for a trilateral peace summit between Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. It has been widely reported that former Prime Minister Tony Blair played a crucial role behind the scenes encouraging al-Sisi to deliver such as speech, and coordinated this effort with Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who were locked in ultimately failed talks to form a unity government. [Source: BICOM ]

The Egyptians committed themselves, together with other Sunni states, to convene an international conference in Cairo that would jump-start the process — mainly renewal of the bilateral negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians and turning the Arab Peace Initiative into a working plan.

Related to another international move, the French initiative [France should hold direct Israeli-Palestinian talks at its June 3rd 2016 in Paris on the frozen peace process], PM Netanyahu told his French counterpart that “If you really want to help launch peace, then help us launch direct negotiations with [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas”… “Israelis and Palestinians have suffered too much. It’s time to sit down together and work out our differences so that peace may reign at long last,” Netanyahu told French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. [Source: Jerusalem Post]

Israeli-Palestinian conflict roadmaps to peace

Reactions

Opposition head MK Yitzhak Herzog (Zionist Union) held a Labor faction meeting on Monday 30th , in which he spoke about Avigdor Lieberman’s appointment as Defense Minister as part of his Yisrael Beytenu party joining the coalition government. According Arutz Sheva  Herzog in his speech also addressed Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), calling for the former Likud minister to take his party out of the coalition government and bring it down. Herzog’s unity talks with Netanyahu fizzled out amid the Labor party head’s demand for a unilateral division of Jerusalem, among other things. [ More about Herzog’s peace plan in Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank ]

After the resignation of Kulanu Environment Minister Avi Gabbay on Friday 27th, because he objected to the prime minister’s replacing Ya’alon with Lieberman; and after Kulanu chairman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s tweet that he would veto any attempt to curb the legislative ambitions of the Israeli Supreme Court; Kulanu’s Housing Minister Yoav Galant, has also moved to pull his fledgling party to the left. According to a Jewish Insider report, Gallant spoke to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York last week and told them his government’s policy was to freeze construction in the Judea and Samaria Jewish settlements. Galant also warned against the emergence of a two-nation state if the 2-state solution is not implemented, and advocated moving in that direction even without cooperation from the PA Arabs. [Source: JewishPress ]

Israel Hayom reported than even before the ink on the Yisrael Beytenu-Likud coalition agreement could dry, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Labor leader Isaac Herzog to join. Netanyahu did it again on Monday, despite (or because of) Herzog’s call for Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon to take his party out of the coalition. Kahlon has also been actively trying to bring Herzog into the fold. The Kulanu leader is becoming increasingly isolated since Moshe Ya’alon was kicked out of the Defense Ministry and Avi Gabai left the Environmental Protection Ministry. Herzog’s dilemma is also Labor’s and Zionist Union’s dilemma: one part of opposition want to join the coalition, others insist to stay in the opposition.

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Appendix:  

Avigdor Lieberman

Avigdor Lieberman [Эве́т Льво́вич Ли́берман] is a Soviet-born [Kishinev, Moldova] Israeli politician who serves now as the Defense Minister of Israel. He has served as Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2009 to 2012, and again from 2013 to 2015. He is the founder and leader of the secular-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, whose electoral base are overwelmingly Russian-speaking immigrants from the former Soviet Union. As a result of the arrival in Israel during the 1990s of more than one million Russian-speaking immigrants, Yisrael Beiteinu has regularly played the ‘king-maker’ role in Israel’s coalition governments. Lieberman’s very pro-Russian stance and perceived friendly relations with Putin have also drawn criticism from fellow Israelis.

yisrael-beiteinu_14702

 

16 most outrageous statements of Avigdor Lieberman over his provocative past by MEE :

  1. If you thought beheadings were only an IS specialty then think again, Lieberman is also a fan – for disloyal Palestinians anyway: “Those who are with us deserve everything, but those who are against us deserve to have their heads chopped off with an axe.”
  2. Democracy is good, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of “Zionist values”: “The vision I would like to see here is the entrenching of the Jewish and the Zionist state…. I very much favour democracy, but when there is a contradiction between democratic and Jewish values, the Jewish and Zionist values are more important.”
  3. I suppose we could always pay Palestinian Israelis to leave though: “Israel should even encourage them with economic incentives.”
  4. Talking of democracy, even members of the Knesset are not safe: “World War II ended with the Nuremberg trials. The heads of the Nazi regime, along with their collaborators, were executed. I hope this will be the fate of the collaborators in [the Knesset].”
  5. “I think the biggest problem of the 21st century is how to deal with minorities.” 
  6. It’s pretty safe to assume he doesn’t watch Al Jazeera: “Qatar has turned into a global problem. Al Jazeera is a central pillar of the propaganda apparatus of Hamas.”
  7. He’s not big on LGBT rights either: “Civil marriage is a very serious problem. I think that even the religious understands that we must look for some kind of a solution because we have some contradictions. I’m sure there are many solutions.”
  8. But what he lacks in love for same-sex marriage, he makes up for with a fondness for brutal rhetoric: “You have to be generous to your friends and cruel to your enemies. We are simply a society of wimps.”
  9. Taking inspiration from the atomic bombs dropped on Japan to make occupation “unnecessary”: “We must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II. Then, too, the occupation of the country was unnecessary.”
  10. But he’ll make sure to safeguard innocent civilians, right? “If it were up to me, I would notify the Palestinian Authority tomorrow at 10 in the morning we would bomb all their places of business in Ramallah, for exampleI would not hesitate to send the Israeli army into all of Area A for 48 hours. Destroy the foundation of all the authority’s military infrastructure, all of the police buildings, the arsenals, all the posts of the security forces… not leave one stone on another. Destroy everything.”
  11. And you wouldn’t want to be a Palestinian prisoner in Avigdor’s world: “It would be better to drown these prisoners in the Dead Sea if possible, since that’s the lowest point in the world.”
  12. What about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, surely he must be okay? “He is preoccupied with diplomatic terrorism.”
  13. Former Egyptian Prime Minister Hosni Mubarak“can go to hell.”
  14. But what does he think of his new boss, Benjamin Netanyahu? “He is a liar, a fraud and a crook. Those are the words I can say about our prime minister. He brazenly defrauds the people of Israel.”
  15. No really, what’s he like? Netanyahu isn’t left or right. He has no ideology. He is the ultimate Mr Zigzag. He may be the world champion of zigzaggers.”
  16. “I’ve always been controversial because I offer new ideas.”

Nimetön (95)


Article first appeared in Conflicts By Ari Rusila


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