Europe Should Be Getting Its Gas from Israel and Its Neighbors, Rather Than Russia

In 2020, Greece, Cyprus, and Israel concluded an agreement to build the EastMed pipeline, through which they could export their offshore natural-gas to Europe. Egypt, Italy, the U.S., and other countries were involved in the project, but shortly after President Biden came into office his administration withdrew its support—putting plans for construction on hold. Since Europe gets most of its gas from Russia, the lack of alternative sources of energy has suddenly become a very obvious strategic liability. Shoshana Bryen comments:

Amos Hochstein, now Biden’s senior advisor for energy security, was reported by the Jerusalem Post to have previously said he would be “extremely uncomfortable with the U.S. supporting” EastMed. “Why would we build a fossil-fuel pipeline between the EastMed and Europe when our entire policy is to support new technology . . . and new investments in going green and in going clean?”

Yet Hochstein seems less than consistent in this view:

Hochstein was recently in Lebanon and Israel, trying to resolve a long-standing maritime border dispute to enable Lebanon to take part in the natural-gas drilling and exploration revolution in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Yes, that would be the same Lebanon that is occupied by U.S.-designated terror organization and Iranian proxy Hizballah, and which has built an enormous and increasingly powerful military force aimed expressly at Israel.

To make matters worse, Hochstein has also gotten behind a plan to bring Egyptian natural gas to Lebanon via Syria, as bringing Lebanon gas from neighboring Israel is, of course, out the question. Bryen finds America’s stance “staggering.”

First, . . . that Hizballah would 100-percent rather rule a “failed state” than take gas from Israel is a given. That the U.S. government agrees with Hizballah about this is troublesome, to put it mildly. And, [what’s more], the U.S. will facilitate commerce through the criminal and sanctioned Assad regime, responsible for the deaths of an estimated half-million-plus people, including through the use of chemical weapons, rather than issue an ultimatum to Hizballah—gas from Israel or no gas at all.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Israeli gas, Lebanon, Natural Gas, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, War in Ukraine

 

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood