Greenwashing the naqab the nakba files gas bubble in back

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In our day and age, not only gold is the subject of colonial and neocolonial alchemy. The sun, the most plentiful resource available to our planet, is increasingly being utilized to generate energy. As this process has largely been placed in corporate hands, the sun has also become a means of generating massive profits for private energy corporations and entrepreneurs.

Sun-based energy – or solar energy – is heralded by many as a positive, desperately needed ‘green’ alternative to non-renewable and environmentally harmful energy sources such as gas and oil. There is growing global interest in developing and implementing solar energy technologies and solutions, and a rapid proliferation of corporate players entering the field. Israel, never one to let a global trend pass it by, has joined in, committing to generating 10% of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2020, and opening the door for private investment to lead its nascent industry.

Answering these questions in the Palestinian context reveals a reality that is anything but sunny. On both sides of the Green Line, in Area C of the occupied West Bank and the Naqab region within 1948 borders, the Israeli solar energy industry serves to fortify the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land, while raking in huge profits for private corporations. wd gaster x reader As one Israeli company illegally operating in the West Bank put it, “Sun is Money”. electricity and magnetism worksheets 4th grade The fine print, had there been any, should have read: For Jewish Israelis only; Palestinians need not apply. Palestinian communities, often living within view of an Israeli commercial solar field, are structurally barred from tapping into the potential of solar energy production on their own land, left to witness their wealth in annual sunshine and radiation levels generating their poverty by nourishing the prosperity of the Israeli economy.

In Israel, 93% of the land is state land, controlled by the state and its various arms, and administered by the Israel Land Administration (ILA). Following the forcible expulsion of 80%-85% of the Naqab’s indigenous Palestinian Bedouin population during the Nakba, Bedouin land was appropriated and transferred to Israel’s Development Authority and the ILA. Today, though 170,000 Palestinian Bedouin comprise 14% of the total population of the Naqab region, they have been allocated only 0.9% of the land by the Israeli government, consisting primarily of built-up areas.

In stark contrast, Jewish cooperative settlements (mainly kibbutzim and moshavim), organized into regional councils, have been allocated huge swathes of land, purportedly for agricultural use. This discriminatory land policy explains why kibbutzim and moshavim have been at the forefront of the nascent Israeli solar industry; they make their extensive land-areas available to the private developers, and in return receive a share of the profits. Some are also active shareholders in the private companies that build and operate the solar fields.

The state, for its part, offers subsidies and other financial incentives in order to encourage local and international private investment in solar energy production. According to the head of the Israeli Electricity Authority (IEA), Assaf Eilat, “The policy of the IEA is to enable the easy construction of solar installations using competitive procedures, at the lowest cost and with the highest reduction of the burden placed on the developers.” All commercial Israeli solar fields are connected to the national electricity grid and sell their electricity to Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), sometimes with a 20-year guarantee that the electricity will be purchased at preferential rates.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian population of the Naqab is being systematically excluded from both residential and commercial solar energy production. The 90,000 or so Palestinian Bedouin who reside in so-called “unrecognized villages”, categorized by Israel as “trespassers on the land”, live under the constant (and often realized) threat of displacement and demolition, disconnected from the national electricity grid and water system. The categorical denial of residential building permits to this group renders them automatically ineligible for permits to install solar panels. electricity prices per kwh 2013 The lack of state recognition means subsidies and other financial benefits are completely beyond their reach.

In its quest for profits, the Israeli solar energy industry does not limit itself to any particular geographic area, and as is the case with other industries in the economy of the occupation, it is completely blind to the Green Line. However, although the solar energy industry knows no borders, it is highly adept at differentiating between its beneficiaries and those who fall victim to it.

Among the key beneficiaries are private corporations, Jewish settlements on both sides of the Green Line, and the Israeli state itself. For business, be it multinational corporations like the Chinese SunTech and US-based First Solar, or local companies like SolarEdge and Energix, there are huge profits to be reaped from the ideal conditions present in the Naqab and Jordan Valley regions, and from governmental incentives to minimize risk and maximize gain. Israeli companies additionally acquire the experience necessary for them to become global players in the field of renewable energy.

Within the Green Line, Jewish cooperative towns and industrial parks gain profits and improved economic standing. electricity transmission loss In the West Bank, illegal settlements gain a new source of revenue, strengthening their hold on occupied land. The Israeli Civil Administration is yet another beneficiary through royalties paid to it by settlement solar fields. And although International Humanitarian Law (IHL) has thus far overlooked renewable natural resources in its treatment of the exploitation of natural resources, their growing importance in contemporary production demands a reconceptualization of IHL regulations. b games play online As the Israeli utilization of the sun for the production of solar energy is contingent upon the misuse of Palestinian land, a public property of the occupied population, the sun, or more specifically solar energy, can arguably constitute what IHL defines as “fruits” reaped from the occupied land.

From the standpoint of its victims, however, Israeli solar energy is merely the latest spin in a development scheme long linked with their exclusion and dispossession. This scheme, from the producers and directors of “making the desert bloom” and “a land without a people for a people without a land”, remains contingent upon the active de-development of the Bedouin population and economy. As investments are poured into Israeli military and civil projects in the Naqab, the Bedouin economy continues to suffer immensely from a chronic lack of basic water, electricity and road infrastructure.

The above piece is based on two reports published by Who Profits Research Center in February 2017 entitled, “Greenwashing the Occupation: The Solar Energy Industry and the Israeli Occupation” and “Greenwashing the Naqab: The Israeli Industry of Solar Energy”. Who Profits is a research center dedicated to exposing the role of the private sector in the Israeli occupation economy.