Friday 30 January 2009

After the BBC - Target British Gas?

I'll return to comments left by friends on my post about the BBC at some point soon, but I wanted to flag up a piece by Robert Fisk in Saturday's Independent.

Fisk highlights a Global Research paper by Canadian ecomonist and anti-war campaigner Michel Chossudovsky that argues that the "military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves.

According to Chossudovsky, British Gas Group and its partner, the Athens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company, were granted 25-year oil and exploration rights off the Gaza coast by Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority in 1999. However, "the death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza's offshore gas reserves."

Israel has negotiated directly with British Gas Group to bypass both the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority, insisting that the Palestinians be paid in goods and services and that no money go to the Hamas-controlled government. A proposed agreement, under which Palestinian gas from Gaza would be channelled via undersea pipelines to the Israeli port of Ashkelon, would have effectively transferred the control of gas sales to Israel.

British Gas Group withdrew from talks in December 2007, but in June of 2008, just as Israel began its invasion plans for Gaza, the company was asked by Israel to resume discussions about the purchase of natural gas from the Gaza offshore fields. Following Israel's invasion, guess who now controls Gaza's coastline?

As Robert Fisk says, "if the Israelis can continue to violate international law by seizing Palestinian land in the West Bank, why cannot they seize the sovereignty of Palestinian gas fields off Gaza? If Israel can annex Jerusalem, why not annex Gaza's maritime areas?"

I still think that the main issue for everyone outraged by Israel's bombardment of Gaza is punishing the Israeli state through a consumer boycott and through disinvestment. So if you see Sid, tell him - British Gas Group has negotiated with Israel for what amounts to the daylight robbery of precious natural resources from the Palestinians. It's time its headquarters at Thames Valley Park in Reading were occupied.

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