Jerusalem – A group of Israeli members of Israel’s Knesset Parliament spent the last number of days preparing the Israeli response to the boycott of Israel by the British University and College Union: a package of sanctions against the U.K. that the MKs intend to begin to promote today.
The initiative, which is likely to elicit interest on the other side as well, was that of MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima). Schneller was joined by, among others, Chairman of the Economic Committee MK Moshe Kahlon (Likud), Chairman of Finance Committee Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beiteinu), Danny Yatom (Labor Party) and Chairman of the Shas Faction MK Yaakov Maragi.
The central component of the initiative is a bill that will be introduced today to the Knesset. The bill stipulates that if the boycott that has been declared by the British University and College Union is indeed executed, all products that are made in the U.K. will have to be marked as such by law. “That way the Israeli consumer can decide whether he wants to purchase a product that comes from there,” explained the MKs.
Schneller views the British boycott gravely. “Boycotting a product because it’s made in Israel resembles, in my opinion, hanging a sign on a store that reads, ‘Jew.’ The fact that we tend to take it and to apologize weakens us.”
Military Escalation Possible
Israeli opposition leader Benyamin Netanyahu, who graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1967, is calling to prepare for military escalation on three fronts: with Syria, Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip. He says that negotiations with Damascus look unreasonable at this time because Assad is connected by an umbilical cord to the “Iranian axis of evil.” Netanyahu also said that he never agreed to full withdrawal from the Golan Heights. He criticized the government’s actions and said that it will not continue in office for long.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council’s decision to form an international tribunal that is supposed to find Bashar Assad and his relatives guilty of the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, has made the Syrian regime frenetic. Some sources in Israeli intelligence warn that this development may come at Israel’s expense when, in his battle for survival, Assad is liable to begin a war against Israel sooner than he planned.
As a result of the last war, Syrian strategists realized that there is no need for a large ground army but only for missiles against Israeli population centers. For the past two years, the Syrians have been buying weapons from Russia. Syria in the past owed the Russians $11 billion, but in 2005, the Russians decided to forgive part of the debt and the Iranians covered the difference.
The Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat reported that the Syrians completed their deployment of the Chinese C-802 cruise missiles they bought in Iran, and that they completed the deployment of their anti-aircraft array. Russia has voiced its willingness to sell its most advanced missiles to the Syrians, the Iskandar missile, which has a 280-kilometer range – more than enough to strike at targets throughout Israel – and the warhead of each missile is equipped with a laser-guiding system and a GPS system with which the operator can guide the missile to its target.
Israeli Ambassador to Washington Sallai Meridor officially confirmed that Syria had recently increased significantly the number of its troops stationed on the Israeli border. “Syria hasn’t stationed so many troops along the border since the Yom Kippur War,” he said.
Investments In Israel
Tomorrow, the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe will meet at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv for a series of discussions on “Promoting Projects in Israel and in Europe with the Partnership of the Private Sector in Public Projects.”
All European countries are members of the Economic Commission, which has never before met in Israel.
According to attorney Yehuda Raveh, who is organizing the conference in Israel, there is great significance in the fact that the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe decided to meet in Tel Aviv, beyond the specific subject of promoting projects in Israel and in Europe, and it is likely that it indicates a change for the positive in the trend regarding having Israel join European economic projects.
In recent years, Israel has been considered an advanced, leading country in all that has to do with establishing public economic projects and in the financing and performance of the private sector. The first significant project was the trans-Israel highway, which was established by an international consortium of a group of investors from Canada, which invested $1.4 billion. The road is considered one of the most successful projects in the world, according to the prestigious Project Finance Magazine. After that, other projects were created using the same method, such as the desalination plant in Ashkelon (with an investment of $250 million) and the Ashkelon power plant ($110 million).
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007