We don’t talk about it as much, but the West Bank and Gaza Strip aren’t the only territories Israel conquered in 1967 over which it’s still arguing. The Golan Heights was taken in the course of horrific battles with Syria, and though Israel annexed the land in 1981, international law (and, not for nothing, the Syrian people) still considers the Heights to be Syrian territory.
Which is why it’s kind of a big deal that Israel has decided to allow an American-Israeli firm to drill for oil there, as reported by Israeli financial daily Globes this week:
A month before U.S. President Barack Obama is due to visit Israel, the Israeli government has awarded the first license to drill for oil on the Golan Heights. The license covers half the area of the Golan from the latitude of Katzrin in the north to Tzemach in the south.
…the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources' Petroleum Council recommended awarding the license to Genie Energy Ltd. (NYSE: GNE), headed by former minister Effie Eitam.
Globes suggests that “a drilling license on the Golan could cause an international fracas,” but I suspect that what with the daily mayhem and horror that Syria currently faces, it’s a good bet that Assad’s government won’t be able to do anything about it—and I further suspect that this fact crossed the minds of those deciding to award the license.
Some interesting personnel notes: Dick Cheney and Rupert Murdoch serve on Genie’s Strategic Advisory Board, as does Lord Jacob Rothschild, chairman of the Rothschild Foundation. Genie is also the parent company of Israel Energy Initiatives Ltd. (IEI), “which is moving forward on a venture to develop shale oil deposits in [Israel’s] coastal plain.” IEI’s Chief Scientist, Harold Vinegar, likewise serves on Genie’s Strategic Advisory Board.
In other personnel notes, as Globes reports,
Genie Energy's win in the license is highly symbolic for Eitam, who resides at Moshav Nob on the Golan, and fought against the Syrian Army there during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, winning a medal for courage.
There’s another interesting bit of trivia about Eitam. In 2004 he said the following about Palestinian militants in a New Yorker interview with Jeffery Goldberg:
I don’t call these people animals. These are creatures who came out of the depths of darkness. It is not by chance that the State of Israel got the mission to pave the way for the rest of the world, to militarily get rid of these dark forces.
Goldberg wrote that Eitam clarified that “he believes there are innocent men among the Palestinians, but that they are collectively guilty.”
We will have to kill them all. I know it’s not very diplomatic. I don’t mean all the Palestinians, but the ones with evil in their heads. Not only blood on their hands but evil in their heads. They are contaminating the hearts and minds of the next generation of Palestinians.
So here’s what we have: a warmongering former American Vice President (and virulent opponent of the current President); a media mogul of dubious ethics; the head of an international Jewish philanthropic entity dedicated to (among other things) “the environment, sustainable development and green energy”; a tightly bound confluence of American and Israeli business interests; and a former Israeli governmental minister who is one caveat shy of advocating mass genocide, all about to benefit from exploiting the natural resources of a large chunk of land that, according to international law, actually belongs to another country.
Huh. That seems just a wee bit dicey to me.