Sunday, October 21, 2007

Yaalon: Gaza operation postponed due to commercial considerations

Pending deal with British Gas caused cabinet not to order an IDF operation in Gaza; going through with deal means Israel would be funding terror used against it, says Former IDF chief Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe (Bugi) Yaalon said Sunday that the government's decision not to engage in a ground operation in the Gaza Strip was largely based on financial, commercial considerations.

In an article published on the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs' website, Yaalon wrote he believed that the possibility of a natural gas deal with British Gas "played a major role in the cabinet's decision not to order an IDF incursion in Gaza, despite the some 1,000 rockets fired on Israel's south since Hamas took over the Strip in June of 2007."

Gas Deal

British Gas to sign $4 billion deal with Israel / Ynet

London Times reports British Gas close to signing deal to supply Israel with gas from off-shore field near Gaza. Hamas says will block deal
Full story

British Gas, along with Lebanese and Palestinian businessmen, operates a gas field just off the coast of Gaza; over the past decade or so, the company has been negotiating natural gas rights with Israel, but so far nothing has come of those discussions.

A risky deal
Such a deal, wrote Yaalon, bears many risks, especially when you consider the hold radical Islam now has on Gaza, and the ominous signs that the West Bank may follow in the same footsteps.

Funneling some $1 billion from Israel to Palestinian, or Palestinian-held bank accounts, would essentially mean that Israel would be funding the very terrorists attacking it, wrote Yaalon.

According to the article, the person pushing for the deal to go through is former British Prime Minister and now Quartet's Middle East envoy, Tony Blair. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, he added, was against the British Gas deal, as is Mossad Chief Meir Dagan. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, on the other hand, seems very much in favor of it.

Should such a deal materialize, said Yaalon, many terror groups, including the Islamic Jihad, may be inclined to attack the British Gas' oil rig off the coast of Gaza, and should the Israel Navy be assigned to secure the facility, it might find itself engaged in multiple fronts.

British Gas is bidding against Egypt and businessman Yossi Maiman's EMG in its attempt to strike a natural gas deal with Israel. Olmert, unlike his predecessor, is keen on renewing the negotiations with British Gas, but the company seems to have lost interest. Israel is currently buying natural gas from the Yam Tethys Group.

The Prime Minister's Office was not available for comment.

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