DRILLING FOR OIL IN THE ISRAELI-OCCUPIED GOLAN HEIGHTS

As explained in Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with Both Sides, Israel, in the 1967 Six-Day War, captured and occupied Syria’s Golan Heights and the Upper Mount Herman giving Israel unlimited access to the Upper Jordan River’s water supplies.

Approximately 130,000 Syrians were driven out of the Golan and most of its 200 villages destroyed.

In 1981, in violation of international law, Israel annexed the Golan Heights.

In 2006, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution that affirmed what it called the “inalienable rights” of the Arab population of the Golan over its natural resources.  As the occupying power, Israel is “prohibited from altering, transferring or confiscating immovable properties,” as well as looting the Golan’s resources. According to the 1907 Hague Regulations, stealing resources from an occupied territory constitutes the crime of pillage.

In 2011, Israel’s high court ruled that Israel’s occupation of the Golan is unique and not bound by the laws against pillage.

On April 17, 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, in a cabinet meeting, declared: “It is time for the international community to recognize that the Golan Heights will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever,” and for good reason.

Israel’s Afek Oil and Gas, and its parent company Genie Energy, Ltd, based in New Jersey, have been given the right to perform exploratory tests for a possible large reservoir of natural gas and light oil. Genie Oil’s Director is Efraim Eitam, a Golan settler, a former Israeli military commander and former Knesset member who called for the expulsion of the “cancer” of Arabs from Israel. His cabal includes Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney, Lord Jacob Rothchild and former CIA Director James Woolsey. His Strategic Advisory Board includes Lawrence Summers, Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton and Director of the National Economic Council under President Obama, former Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu who helped pass the US-Israel Energy Cooperation Bill and former governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, an energy insider after serving as Clinton’s Energy Secretary.

At stake in this enterprise is a 153 square-mile region in the Golan Heights, demarcated by Israeli authorities as exclusive territory for Afek to perform exploratory testing.

Beyond the not-at-all minor issue of legality, Afek’s drilling in this region has stirred a more imperative concern. A large aquifer supplying the entire region’s drinking water is positioned uncomfortably close to the stores of fossil fuel, raising contamination concerns. Environmental and humanitarian groups have vocally criticized Afek’s exploratory drilling. None of this bothers the cabal since the Golan Heights represents to Big Oil little more than an exploitative business opportunity.

While the Afek group sets their sights on the Golan’s oil and gas, Turkey, the US, Russia, ISIS and a spat of others have been fighting over Syria’s geostrategic location for major oil pipelines under the cover of religious and civil strife.

As Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. intoned in an April editorial for Ecowatch, “We may want to look beyond the convenient explanations of religion and ideology and focus on the more complex rationales of history and oil which mostly point the finger of blame for terrorism back to the champions of militarism, imperialism and petroleum here on our own shores.”

US interventions in the Middle East, and particularly Syria, have little to do with fighting terrorism and far more to do with the region’s rich petroleum reserves. Such insistent international meddling at the behest of corporate oil interests so destabilized the entire region it has contributed to the formation of ISIS and similar radical groups.

Oil exploration benefits the ongoing push by Israel to expand it occupation into more Syrian territory since US-backed Big Oil operates under the premise the manufactured nation’s encroachment on Syrian territory is perfectly legal. As is the case with Afek and Genie, the Golan Heights is dismissively referred to as “Northern Israel.”

Considering the notoriously powerful, monied warmongers backing Afek’s petroleum plans, outrage and violation of international law won’t factor one iota into matters concerning the Golan Heights.

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