Border Control / Salvation Under Gaza's Sea

The price of electricity is about to jump 20 percent, but will the cottage-cheese revolutionaries boycott the politicians who foiled a plan to develop Gaza's gas field?

The 20-percent increase in the electricity price presumably will not spur the cottage-cheese revolutionaries to call upon the public to start using candles and to sweat under silenced air conditioners in the summer heat. It's not our fault, say Israel Electric Corporation officials. Are we to blame that terrorists are constantly sabotaging the Egyptian natural gas pipeline and forcing us to resort to more costly fuel sources?

True, the Electric Corp. is not responsible for the fact that an entire country's economy is dependent on the good graces of just one neighbor - a neighbor that is neither the paragon of stability nor a model of proper management. Following the revolution earlier this year, Egypt's new regime has started investigating whether top officials in deposed President Hosni Mubarak's government illicitly profited from selling the country's natural gas.

In Israel, however, no one is demanding an accounting from the politicians who thwarted the initiative to develop a large gas field off Gaza's beaches, thus forgoing another potential energy source. Had the politicians acted otherwise, the Israel Electric Corporation would have started receiving that gas this year, thus reducing dependence on Egyptian gas and pushing down the price of electricity and products dependent on it.

Were former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon able to tell us what motivated him not to cut the deal with the Palestinian Authority, he would without a doubt have explained that he feared the income would help finance terror. Sharon was not alone. Lt. Gen. (res. ) Moshe Ya'alon (now deputy prime minister ) wrote in June 2007 that even though Israel needs additional natural gas sources and the Palestinian people is desperate for income, when "the Gaza Strip is controlled by extremist Islam, and the West Bank is threatening to be next in line, sending $1 million from Israel into local or foreign Palestinian Authority bank accounts would be equivalent to financing terror."

In an article published on the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs' website, Ya'alon amused himself with the theory that the Gaza gas deal influenced the Olmert administration's decision to refrain from a large ground operation in Gaza. No less. That article was written before Operation Cast Lead.

And lo and behold, half a year ago it was none other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who proposed renewing the talks with the Palestinian leadership about developing the Gaza gas field. At the end of a meeting with quartet envoy Tony Blair, Netanyahu reportedly said: "It's good for growth, it's good for stability, it's good for peace." Not a word about terror, not a syllable about financing Hamas.

Now that his patron Hosni Mubarak is gone, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will have no compunctions about competing against Egyptian gas. In Israel, as always, the citizens will pay a high price for what they could have gotten cheaply. They will join a Facebook boycott because a bland cheese became a few agorot more expensive while they pay extra hundreds and thousands of shekels because electricity costs more.

High Court of Justice?

Instead of assaulting the Supreme Court, Rabbi Dov Lior's Hebron disciples should be sending the justices flowers. Last month, the High Court of Justice, presided over by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, further extended the order limiting the movement of the 8,000-plus Palestinians living on Shuhada Street. According to the Association for Human Rights in Israel, 659 Palestinian families already have abandoned the area and 1,829 businesses have shut down.

As always, the judges' reasoning is based on Israel Defense Forces reports of attempts to harm settlers in Hebron. This time, too, they were not moved by a security opinion presented by ACRI, which clearly indicated that there are alternatives to closing streets. When a few years ago the High Court of Justice ordered Shuhada Street opened to individual Palestinian pedestrians, the settlers objected and the army panicked and closed the street again, despite its commitment to the court. The ruling stated that this time the ACRI petition had "exhausted itself."

Attorney Limor Yehuda, who represents the ACRI, wondered aloud how the court could legitimize an arrangement that blocks sick people from walking down their street only due to their national identity. Yehuda said she has trouble understanding how the ruling meshes with Beinisch's ruling on Highway 443, in which she wrote: "Despite the understanding of the security need, the use of such security means, which create absolute separation between different populations and prevent an entire group from using a road, arouses a sense of inequality and illegitimate motives ... Therefore, the military commander must do everything possible to avoid situations of this sort and to prevent harsh damage and the accompanying sense of discrimination."

The security argument also plays a central role in the state's position on petitions filed by residents of the Palestinian village Al-Jania, with the help of the non-profit organization Bimkom - Planners for Human Rights and Volunteers for Human Rights, against construction in outposts of the West Bank settlement Talmon. In September 2010 the justices issued an interim order, giving the state 60 days to explain why the plan cutting the inhabitants off from their lands should not be thrown out. During the hearing scheduled for tomorrow, the justices will decide whether to give another prize to criminals or to justify the title High Court of Justice. In any case, the settlers will shower them with invective.