Israel grants exclusive exploration rights to drill for oil in Golan Heights to US subsidiary
Israel has granted Afek, an Israeli company and subsidiary of Genie Energy Limited of New Jersey, exclusive rights to conduct exploratory drilling for oil in the southern Golan Heights area.
The Golan Heights is Syrian territory bordering on Israel. It has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 war:
Internationally recognized as Syrian territory, the Golan Heights has been occupied and administered by Israel since 1967. It was captured during the 1967 Six-Day War, establishing the Purple Line.About five percent of the territory was returned to Syria that became a demilitarized zone under the control of UN peace keeping forces. Several maps of the area can be found at this site. As in the occupied parts of the West Bank, Israel has built heavily subsidized settlements in the area. Most of the 90,000 Syrians who formerly lived in the area have fled or been expelled from the 70 percent of the area that is under Israeli control. There are about 20,000 Syrian Druze left in six villages in the area but there are more than 21,000 Israeli settlers who live in Jewish only colonies.
On September 11th of this year Afek won approval for exploratory drilling in 10 locations in the territory. However, the Israeli High Court froze Afek's approval because of a petition put forward by environmentalists. Former US Vice President Dick Cheney is an adviser to the parent company of Afek. Genie Energy. Opposition to the drilling is not limited to environmentalists. Back in February of 2013 Syria had sent a letter to UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon to protest the granting of a previous license for oil and gas exploration in the Golan Heights. Israel has already established other businesses in the area including an large winery and a mineral water bottling plant. The Golan Heights provides about one third of Israel's fresh water supply according to the BBC. Amamer Ibrahim a founding member of Uploading Conscription notes:
"These plans should be seen in the broader context of [Israeli] economic projects in the region, which include its utilisation of both human and natural resources...The ongoing Syrian civil war and the world's focus on it have provided Israel with an opportunity to expand its presence here [in the Golan] and continue violating international law publicly without much attention from the international community,"Since 1981 Israel claims to have simply annexed the Golan Heights. The international community considers the annexation unlawful and Israel remains an occupier of the territory.
John Quigley an international law expert at Ohio State University claims that a "belligerent occupant is a trustee for the population of the territory it occupies" and is only permitted to stifle the rights of the indigenous population "for strictly military purposes"." In January of this year, Israeli authorities also expropriated more than 7,400 acres of agricultural land in the Golan Heights in order to establish 750 farming estates according to a human rights group, Al Marsad. The group claims that Israel is establishing "facts on the ground" that will ensure that their annexation of the Golan Heights is not reversed. Not only Israeli companies profit from these developments but also US companies such as Genie Energy.