Elections in Turkey and Gas Discoveries in Egypt Bode Ill for Israel’s Natural-Gas Industry

July 13 2018

While the dictates of economics, geography, and technology suggest that Turkey would be the best possible market for the natural gas beneath Israel’s coastal waters, politics dictate otherwise. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently reelected to the Turkish presidency, has been hostile to the Jewish state since first coming to power, and is unlikely to be eager to set up a gas pipeline between the two countries. But, write Oded Eran and Elai Rettig, further gas extraction is only worthwhile if the gas can be exported, and it is now unclear whether Egypt, the only viable alternative to Turkey, will be any more receptive:

Turkey’s regional relations in general, and with Israel in particular, do not provide the gas companies with the stability required to build an inter-state pipeline and sign off on such capital-intensive contracts. Although the deterioration of Turkish-Israeli bilateral relations that began in late 2008 was halted temporarily by the normalization agreement signed in June 2016, it resumed with even greater intensity over the past year with the violent events on the Temple Mount and in the Gaza Strip. . . . It is currently doubtful that Erdogan will approve an agreement whereby Israeli companies supply natural gas to Turkey. It is also doubtful that the gas companies themselves will agree to incur the risk of relying on a Turkish president so hostile toward Israel. . . .

A greater worry [stems from] reports on a new gas-field discovery in Egypt, [which preclude] Israel’s use of the liquefaction facilities in Egypt. The new field, if confirmed, will meet the Egyptian demand for natural gas for the foreseeable future and will rekindle Egypt’s desire to export liquid gas to Europe through its underutilized facilities. New Egyptian discoveries leave no room to accommodate Israeli gas and will create additional hurdles for Israel’s desire to reach the European market, [since the most efficient way to get the gas to Europe would be first to send it to Egypt for liquefaction]. Although a new and larger Egyptian gas field could encourage the construction of an additional liquefaction facility in Egypt or the expansion of the existing facilities, any such addition would require a substantial investment of time and capital.

The natural gas that was discovered in Israel’s [coastal] waters has the potential to generate immense profits and revenue, as well as to improve Israel’s relations with its neighbors. However, the prolonged internal political process within Israel regarding the development of the reserves, the method of taxation, and the ratio between domestic use and exports, in addition to the recent developments in Turkey and Egypt, make it difficult for Israel to realize these benefits. . . .

[E]ven in the most optimistic of scenarios, the Israeli economy cannot itself absorb a large enough volume of gas in the coming years to justify the capital investment needed for the development of the Leviathan gas field. If the gas export deal with Egypt does not materialize, the gas partners will become dependent on the relatively small export deal with Jordan as their only anchor. . . . Therefore, gas companies should push for the rapid implementation of the export deal with Egypt while the Egyptian gas shortage continues. In turn, the Israeli government should provide behind-the-scenes assistance in this matter to the extent necessary.

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More about: Egypt, Israel & Zionism, Natural Gas, Turkey

A University of Michigan Professor Exposes the Full Implications of Academic Boycotts of Israel

Sept. 26 2018

A few weeks ago, Professor John Cheney-Lippold of the University of Michigan told an undergraduate student he would write a letter of recommendation for her to participate in a study-abroad program. But upon examining her application more carefully and realizing that she wished to spend a semester in Israel, he sent her a polite email declining to follow through. His explanation: “many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine,” and “for reasons of these politics” he would no longer write the letter. Jonathan Marks comments:

We are routinely told . . . that boycott actions against Israel are “limited to institutions and their official representatives.” But Cheney-Lippold reminds us that the boycott, even if read in this narrow way, obligates professors to refuse to assist their own students when those students seek to participate in study-abroad programs in Israel. Dan Avnon, an Israeli academic, learned years ago that the same goes for Israel faculty members seeking to participate in exchange programs sponsored by Israeli universities. They, too, must be turned away regardless of their position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. . . .

Cheney-Lippold, like other boycott defenders, points to the supposed 2005 “call of Palestinian civil society” to justify his singling out of Israel. “I support,” he says in comments to the [Michigan] student newspaper, “communities who organize themselves and ask for international support to achieve equal rights [and] freedom and to prevent violations of international law.”

Set aside the absurdity of this reasoning (“Why am I not boycotting China on behalf of Tibet? Because China has been much more effective in stifling civil society!”). Focus instead on what Cheney-Lippold could have found out by using Google. The first endorser of the call of “civil society” is the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, which includes Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and other groups that trade not only in violent “resistance” but in violence that directly targets noncombatants.

That’s remained par for the course for the boycott movement. In October 2015, in the midst of the series of stabbings deemed “the knife intifada,” the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel shared a call for an international day of solidarity with the “new generation of Palestinians” who were then “rising up against Israel’s brutal, decades-old system of occupation.” To be sure, they did not directly endorse attacks on civilians, but they did issue their statement of solidarity with “Palestinian popular resistance” one day after four attacks that left three Israelis—all civilians—dead.

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More about: Academia, Academic Boycotts, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Knife intifada