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The Israel-Egypt Gas Deal Increases Stability in the Eastern Mediterranean

March 16 2018

In February, the two firms that own the rights to the natural-gas fields beneath Israel’s coastal waters signed a deal to begin exporting gas to an Egyptian company, which will then liquefy it for export and domestic consumption. Oded Eran, Elai Rettig, and Ofir Winter explain that, although the deal is not without its risks—especially since any pipeline could be vulnerable to attack by Hamas, Hizballah, or Islamic State—it will likely improve relations among Israel and its neighbors:

Egypt offers Israel a growing local market [for its gas] and the possibility of using its liquefaction facilities, [the only such facilities in the region], to transport gas to Europe. . . . Apart from the pipeline to Egypt, a pipeline to Jordan is [also] under construction, as part of an agreement signed in 2016 to supply 45-billion cubic meters of gas over fifteen years. . . .

The deals with Jordan and Egypt have great strategic value for Israel and the region. They might possibly be joined by a future deal with the Palestinian Authority (PA). . . . These agreements stabilize Israel’s relations with its neighbors by creating a web of mutual interests and opening up the possibility of regional cooperation beyond the subject of natural gas, such as the export and import of electricity and desalinated water.

In security terms, the flow of gas from Israel to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority makes this a regional and not just Israeli interest. . . . [A]ny damage by Hizballah or Hamas to Israel’s ability to produce gas will also affect the supply of electricity to Jordan, Egypt, and the PA. The threat will become an important component in intelligence and security cooperation among neighboring countries in identifying and preventing sabotage, and a catalyst for them to seek calm if fighting breaks out with one of these [terror] organizations. In economic terms, [a successful] partnership between Israel and its neighbors with regard to energy resources will encourage the entry of new investors into the eastern Mediterranean and show them that it is possible to implement large-scale production and export projects requiring regional cooperation.

The deal could also have implications regarding the . . . unresolved dispute between Israel and Lebanon over maritime borders, [which] is a political and security nuisance for Israel [but] has not prevented either Egypt or Jordan from entering into long-term engagements with Israel in the field of energy. Clearly, hostilities between Israel and Lebanon would have destructive consequences, particularly for Lebanon, inter alia by reducing its ability to use the oil and gas in its waters, but they would also damage Israeli interests regarding the development of gas reservoirs close to the border. [Therefore], it would be best for countries that have diplomatic relations with Lebanon, particularly those whose energy companies are involved in gas development, to work toward reducing the bellicose rhetoric currently coming from Beirut.

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Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Egypt, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Lebanon

Germany’s Bid to Keep Israel off the UN Security Council

March 21 2018

The Jewish state has never held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. For the first 50 years of its existence, it was denied membership in any of the UN’s regional groups, which control candidacies for these rotating seats. Then it was finally admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which promptly agreed to wait another twenty years before approving Jerusalem for a Security Council candidacy. Now, Benny Avni notes, Germany is poised to block action:

As a good-faith gesture, the Western European and Others Group promised Israel that it and Belgium would run uncontested for the two open 2019-20 [Security Council] seats. Then, in 2016, Germany announced it would also run—even though it already served as a council member [multiple times, including] as recently as 2011-12. . . . [U]nless Belgium yields, Israel’s hopes for UN respect seem doomed for now—and maybe for the foreseeable future.

Why? Diplomats have been telling me Israel violates too many Security Council resolutions to be a member—as in the one passed during the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, which marked Jewish holy sites as occupied Palestinian territory. But is building a porch in [the West Bank town of] Ma’ale Adumim really such a huge threat to world peace?

How about, then, a report released last week by UN experts on the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions? It found Germany violated a council ban on sparkling wines, exporting $151,840 worth of bubbly and other luxury goods to Kim Jong Un’s cronies. Or how about, as the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal reports, German companies exporting to Iran banned materials that were later used in chemical attacks in Syria?

Never mind. Germany (and Belgium) will surely benefit from the UN’s habit of magnifying Israel’s violations beyond all proportion. Thus, Israel’s petition to join the most prestigious UN club will likely be rejected, thanks to a late entry by a shameless [and] cynical German power play against the Jewish state.

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Read more at New York Post

More about: Germany, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-German relations, United Nations