It’s Time to Meet: Israel and Palestine

Diplomacy is the one idea which can abate the violence between the Israelis and Palestinians. All sincere efforts must be made for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Abbas to formally meet in order to discuss peace and the way forward for both parties as soon as practical.

It is extremely difficult to understand why the obstacles and challenges which seem to prevent the meeting between them cannot be overcome. Meeting for peace is not a sign of weakness. Any fight on the diplomatic front to save the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians is where the true strength lies.

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If it’s a “Technicality” then the European Union is “Splitting Hairs” over Israel’s Technicalities

By David Bryan

The European Union must surely appreciate that a handshake may be the culture norm in the West, but on the flipside can also amount to a covert insult in the East; however insignificant one may think the gesture may be. In war and certainly within the rules of engagement “technicalities” mean everything and are significant to merit whole nations being partition along the lines of one of history’s oldest maxims: to the victor the spoils.

Why is Israel the only country in the world where it must ‘dance’ around the truth; for fear of offending? Yet, President Abbas can walk up and down the breath of the isle and incite words that Palestinians can use their feet to walk in the blood of Israelis and then is seemingly rewarded by a “technicality”. Why must Israel be not entitled to the same international reciprocal rights enjoyed by other sovereign nations but be continually subjected to detrimental unilateral actions? Reciprocity is a two way street. So too should be negotiation before escalation.

The maxim is the same maxim used in the philosophy which underscored the framing of the Treaty of Versailles after the Allies conquered Hitler and the other forces. It is the same philosophy which underpinned the dividing of Sudan into two nations after civil war broke out, giving rise to the youngest nation in the world; South Sudan. It is the same philosophy that gave rise to the former Soviet Union states that fought bitter wars for their right to self-determination. Was not their annexation from Russia recognized by International law under the United Nations Charter as independent nations with one vote?

It is that League of Nations which has now modified into the United Nations that carries the authority to validate and legitimized whether a nation and its borders are a country. This is a duty which does not fall to any other States.  The decision by the EU to label products from Israel within specific categories is not “anti-Semitic” but mis-guided. The decision is based on a false premise, which followed to its logical conclusion would be not only illogical but wrong. The fallacy of the argument that goods from the “Golan Heights”, “West Bank”, “Gaza” and “East Jerusalem” are not part of Israel must fail.

Since the starting point is and should be: Israel is recognizable as a Sovereign Contracting State as Israel under International law, Treatises and Conventions of the UN. The member States of the EU indeed have acknowledged Israel as a Sovereign Contracting State under the UN, not West Bank, not Golan Heights, not Gaza, not East Jerusalem and not Palestine which is not legally a State as per the requirements of the UN Charter. How then can the EU explain the rationale of denying products from  West Bank, Golan Heights, Gaza are not in Israel but de facto recognize “product from the West Bank (Palestine product)?

To divorce the West bank, Golan Heights and settlement produce under a sort of ‘severability’ clause by the insistence of pre and post 1967 borders is incorrect and cannot withstand applicable international jurisprudence. If the intention and motive of the EU is to bring Israel and Palestine together to further the peace process it is understandable.  But one has to be rational and circumspect, especially as it relates to sensitive matters regarding the stability and fostering the balance in the relationship between Israel and Palestine.

The EU must avoid the optics of what appears to be picking the low hanging fruit of the good tree of Israel out of convenience and avoiding the fruits of the evil tree of incitement by some of the Palestinians. Since it may look as though the EU has tried to create basically the division of Israel and Palestine through delineation of product mapping based on the pre-1967 geographical locations from the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem.

This presumption will of course be a serious overstep and should be addressed; given the fact that in all negotiations ; technicalities are just that “technicalities”; leaving space for genuine compromise in the world of un-technical language; for instance- what about this label: produce “Made in Israel originated from the Golan Heights; Settlement must be made in Euros”. Any other suggestions?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Israel and the United States- A United Family

Divisions among brothers cannot separate strong and united families, whether in thought or in deed. Arguments come and go; but true friendship remains stable regardless of family disagreements. Sound leadership can draw only positively from divisions and resolve open disagreements.

The meeting between President Barak Obama of the United States and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is long overdue. Needless, to say, it presents an opportunity to solidify the relationship between the world’s two closet allies and re-affirm their countries commitment to American-Israeli relations for the immediate long term.

The valley of Us-Jewish skepticism will no doubt again prosper towards reaching the mountain of realism in the ever changing geo-political landscape in the Middle-East. It is for this reason Jerusalem has to lean on Washington for increase support in keeping apace with being the primary “military quantitative edge” in the region.

The strong position put forward, for an increase in maintain Israel’s military and security forces in technology, intelligence and surveillance forward capabilities, military weapons and cyber equipment is unanimously supported -against the backdrop, of the escalation of extreme insurgents and the likely re-emergence of Iran in the area.

President Obama has secured his diplomatic victory in signing the Iran deal with the P5 + 1 nations and history has recorded PM Netanyahu’s strong opposition to it, but one can both be on the same team and have opposing views. This is the hallmark of living in a true democracy.

The complex issues such as the Israeli-Palestine conflict, the two state solution will feature high on the agenda given the recent spate of violence and uprisings in Israel.

The continued support by the USA to Israel crosses the river of divide and it has been unwavering. Now is the time, for President Obama to cement his legacy between Israel with America’s commitment, trust and good-will towards the people of the Jewish nation.

 

 

 

 

Changing the Rules of the Aviation ‘Game’

If the bombing of the Russian airliner is a game changer, then the game has to be changed in favour to reduce the possible likelihood of such a dark tragedy to close to zero percent from being repeated in the near future across the world’s airports.

The rules of security for international travelers and airports have to be upgraded to encompass the threat of extreme terrorism; against civilian aircraft from the volatile regions of the Middle-East and African regions to the US, Europe and those coalition countries involved in the fight against terrorist.

There must be a “360 degree aircraft security circle” where anything and anyone coming into contact with the circle is properly vetted and sanitized, before the plane is cleared for departure. Everything and everyone from the “least” to the “highest” in the airline chain must now come under greater scrutiny, from baggage handlers, food caterers and their food trays, fuel delivery personnel, screening and background checks on companies and their employees who come into contact with the particular airline should be made mandatory.

Increase of ‘operational’ state-of-art security scanners and surveillance cameras at the airports. Exploring the possibility of having international security firms working with local authorities. Airports must have follow- up with international security airport experts or associations- randomly and frequently unannounced visits to airports to test security and their vulnerabilities. Since it was the lapses and weakness the terrorist exploited in order to gain access to having a ‘bomb’ on the plane.

Airports who do not meet specific international criteria; appropriate sanctions ensue such as downgrades, suspensions of international flights etc.

It is important, to remember, the victims of this flight, but also those who the world have loss under similar suspected circumstances and that the perpetrators of this heinous act must not be allowed to go unpunished. They must be brought to swift justice by the Egyptian, regional and international authorities. The world has to show it is not only more than capable of holding those responsible for this air disaster but it is more “intelligently” capable of seeking to prevent a re-occurrence

The Cahill Energy Project- A Really Awful Deal for Barbados and Barbadians.

By David Bryan

 

Introduction

Firstly, it must be said; some men are born cowards, some men are made cowards and some have cowardice thrust upon them. In seeking to be true, my conscious would not allow me to be a duly qualified candidate in any of the 3 above categories by remaining silent in the face of this undemocratic attempt to sell out this country’s present and future rights in waste energy management by this Democratic Labour Party government to Cahill Energy Limited for the next 30 years.

What has happened between the Government of Barbados and Cahill has set a dangerous precedent of the complete absence of accountability, transparency and good governance for and on behalf of the people of Barbados. This Government must be reminded it was voted in to govern “in the good affairs of the management of Barbados” and not chosen to reign as it sees fit.

It does not have the luxury to pick and chose which issues it is comfortable with and therefore answer when it suits them albeit in a dismissive manner. The DLP cannot do as it likes, when it likes or however it likes and proceed to ignore time-honoured principles, protocols and conventions in the implementation and execution of major projects in Barbados.

No man is an island and equally, no political party is bigger than any country. The people therefore do not have to “beg” for answers; the people of Barbados have every God-given right to demand answers about Cahill, its principal directors and any Agreement pertaining to those which were signed by the representatives who were elected to run this nation.

Having perused the Agreements which are in the public domain, one wonders, how many more “Cahill-like Agreements” exist and what other areas have been signed off by this Government under the cover of night which may prejudice the rights of future generations of Barbadians?

‘Illegal Exclusivity’

Without a doubt, there are many superfluous issues passing-off as “teacup storms” in this country, but $700 million is certainly a Category 4 hurricane which requires the full attention of right-thinking Barbadians.

It is difficult to digest the logic and reasoning behind Government’s appetite and unquenchable thirst for this particular type of Waste- energy project- aka plasma gasification- an unproven mode of technology not operational in any part of the globe.

More astonishing, is the granting by the GoB to Cahill the “exclusive right to develop, own and operate waste to energy facilities in the territory of Barbados” for 30 years “ in the first “Heads of Terms Agreement”  signed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and M.E. Cowan on Septemeber 13th, 2013.

What is particularly disturbing about this “exclusively” to Cahill, it was further expanded upon in a later Agreement- known as the Imlementation Agreement- “ unanimously and unconditionally approved by Cabinet and signed by the Governement of Barbados acting by”  Senator Darcy W. Boyce, the Hon. Denis Kellman, Dr.the Hon. Denis Lowe, the Hon. Christopher ZP. Sinckler, Margot Harvey (Chairman of Sanitation Service Authority) and M.E.Claire Cowan of Cahill Energy (Barbados) Limited on March 15 March 2014.

Clause 3 titled “Exclusivity”; stated Government hereby grants CEB the exclusive right “to all waste arising out of Barbados during the Term that falls within the Waste Specification inclusive all waste tyres but excluding any shredded waste tyres imported by CEL”.

The clear issue here is whether or not this Agreement is a valid binding Agreement given the extent and nature of this exclusive clause?

This exclusive arrangement in the Agreement has in effect placed other waste players in the market at a competitive disadvantage and interferes with individual liberty of action in trading of waste in Barbados and as a result; it is contrary to public policy.

Any Agreement(s) which is likely to have an effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in a market is prohibitive, and as a consequence the contract is then by its very nature illegal – not enforceable.

Governments should be in the business of liberalizing markets not closing them in favour of a select few. This really amounts to anti-competitive business conduct and as such this waste to energy deal with Cahill is a bad deal for Barbados at all levels.

 Vaucluse Site

The deal amounts to a really awful deal for this country when one considers the issue of the site at Vauculse, St.Thomas.  On Wednesday, this week, in the Upper Chamber, Senator Jepter Ince during the debate, for the compulsory acquisition of approximately 27 acres of land at Vauculse; stated as a matter of fact, the land in question was not for the Cahill Energy Project.

On the contrary, this presumption must be rebutted, since it is enunciated in the Incorporated Terms Memorandum Agreement signed on March 15th 2014 that “site” means: “an area of 15 acres forming part of a larger area… of Vaucluse Plantation”. In the Executed Heads of Term Agreement signed on March 15th 2014 Clause 5.1 states:

“No later than 3 months after the date of the Final Agreement the Government shall sell to CEB for the sum of USD1 the freehold of the proposed site… and convey the site into the name of CEB. The site will be sold with vacant possession on completion and without restriction”.

5.2          The Government shall pay or waive all stamp duty, transfer and registration taxes or levies payable in relation to the transfer of the site to CEB and the registration of title to the site in the name of CEB

 

The Government of Barbados will have to pay for the 27 acres of land at Vaucluse Plantation at fair market value, with real tax payers dollars, but what the Agreement is purporting is “to sell” 15 acres to Cahill “for the sum of USD1” and to pay or waive all land registration fees in the registration of title to CEB.

It was stated in no uncertain terms by the good Senator Verla Depezia that it was not patriotic for confidential documents to be leaked or taken up after they “fall off” of trucks. How do we describe the “give-a-away” of prime land by the Government of Barbados to CEB on an island that is only 166 square miles, and so many people cannot find affordable housing in this country?

Finally, it must be said that we in Barbados enjoy a certain level of democratic maturity associated with develop societies. The majority of us pride our development as a nation and contrary to popular belief Barbados cannot be bought for $600 million or $ 6 Billion. The price for freedom to choose who we think deserve to represent our best interest as citizens of Barbados has always been and always will be non-negotiable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let Justice follow Justice

South Sudan

The resumption of fighting, following the brief cease-fire between the rebels and government forces in South Sudan jeopardizes the ability of this young democracy to pull itself out of the vortex of self-annihilation.

The recent Presidential ‘decree’ forming the 28 ‘counties’ of the Republic of South Sudan has made a mockery of the heroic efforts of the many representatives,officials and institutions of their dedicated services and time for a workable peace-process.

One can therefore have as many people around the negotiating table but if the genuine political will is that of deception and non-commitment, then failure; not success is the usual outcome. The assimilation of the rebel groups to denounce the government efforts to consolidate its power is unfortunate.

The complete lack of trust between the parties provide no real motivation to move forward to the goal of peaceful settlement. But the inability to enforce peace agreements open the easy roads of destruction, where the heavy traffic of arms and bullets travel to feed this internal conflict.

There has to be a point, where the same energy, the same enthusiasm to ink peace deals be translated in the same efforts to enforce and maintain them.Men come and go, countries remain and so too must be peace deals; which protect future generations and the saving of lives.

“As surely as the Lord lives”, war and war-mongers will always be defeated. The narrow avenues which must be open so that peace can thrive would have to be re-opened and the doors of hate and incitement have to be bolted shut.

Libya

Men love power and the lofty seats of power. Unity of a country comes at a price. The sacrifice for the freedom of the Libyan people has to be paid by those who say they hold political power on behalf of the people; in order for the Libyan nation to rise above the ‘tribalism’ engulfing its state.

Unless there is a coalescing  of the two ‘independent’ governments the international community cannot prejudicially favor one group over other and deviate from its position of extending its arm of intervention. The Libyan leadership must “follow justice and justice alone” for the Libyan people.

Visionary leaders have always seen the larger perspective of; country and people. Narrow leadership is proven to have only themselves to blame, when they seek to enrich themselves over people and country.

The political kingdom of any country must understand the shift is not top to bottom anymore but rather bottom to top. It’s the people who are and must be center of ‘new’ democracy since politicians are elected as the custodians of democracy and safeguarding its citizens rights.

 

Lebanon

Failure has its lessons; but when you fail to learn your lessons, successful failures becomes the teacher. Either the Lebanese Parliament has opted to deliberately fail to elect a leader or the success of parliament is well suited to be without a leader.

Consequently, it is the people who will not progress in any one scenario. The ‘garbage dilemma’ is a good example. There is nothing known as ‘half’ democracy; proper government functions operate when the tank of democracy is at full.

The people deserve their right to have the post of the President filled under the workings of its ‘Constitution’. To be deprived of their Head of State is ‘unconstitutional’ and must be rectified.