How Israel helps Iran
Israel must make it clear that whoever does business with Iran cannot benefit from doing business with Israel.
Haldor Topsoe is an international Danish corporation with extensive business ties in Iran. It is busy setting up two large methanol refineries for the enormous Fars gas field in Iran. Thus the company is watched by the U.S. administration as it compiles a list of American and international corporations developing the Iranian economy, and particularly its gas and oil industries, which is the main source of Tehran's revenue. Obviously, the Danish corporation is not alone in this. There are hundreds of other companies from dozens of countries that trade with Iran in a variety of areas. Nonetheless, this does not lessen the seriousness of the matter.
So it is disturbing that the Israel Electric Corporation is going to great lengths to grant Haldor Topsoe (described as a subcontractor for a German firm ) a NIS 500 million contract to build air purifiers for the power plants in Ashkelon and Hadera. Haldor Topsoe is a finalist in the IEC tender; the other is the Japanese firm Hitachi.
While the bid from the Danish company is substantially lower than Hitachi's, is financial consideration the only criterion for Israel's decision? What about the political and ethical considerations?
For years, the government of Israel has preached to other countries about the need to tighten sanctions against Iran to urge it away from its nuclear program. The Foreign Ministry, indirectly and with the help of Jewish organizations, has conducted an extensive international campaign - demonstrations, petitions, rallying of parliament members and the media against governments and companies trading with Iran.
It appears, however, that Israel's government is not practicing what it demands of others; this is both hypocritical and cheeky. About a year ago, Haaretz uncovered the existence of a NIS 150 million deal between the Airports Authority and Siemens, the largest trading partner of Iran in Germany. The Airports Authority also justified its decision on the basis of the attractive price the company had offered to win the tender.
There is a law in Israel stating explicitly it is forbidden to invest more than $20 million in corporations trading with Iran, but the law is not being enforced. Even worse, there is no central authority dealing with this important issue. The issue was brought to the attention of the Prime Minister's Office and of National Security Adviser Uzi Arad, but both Netanyahu and Arad, who do not lose an opportunity to remind everyone of the existential threat posed by Iran, do nothing. If this does not interest them, then what does?
The IEC's tenders committee has decided to sign a contract with Haldor Topsoe, arguing this is a company with a subsidiary in the United States. This is true, but legislation being prepared in the U.S. will prevent American firms or foreign companies operating there from investing in Iran's energy sector.
Following a last-minute bid by the rival Japanese firm, the IEC brought the issue to Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau for a decision. His spokesman said that "the minister is seriously considering the issue."
This is not enough. Israel must take a clear stand and not evade the issue. It must be at the front of the campaign and not lag. Companies and corporations (regardless of their cover ) assisting Iran's economy are bolstering the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is threatening to destroy Israel. Israel must make it clear that whoever does business with Iran cannot benefit from doing business with Israel.
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