Budapest conference to focus on financing for Nabucco

Budapest conference to focus on financing for Nabucco

Friday 13:49, January 23rd, 2009
Arranging pre-financing for the Nabucco project will be one of the main aims of a conference on the gas pipeline to take place in Budapest next week, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány told MTI on Friday.

“For those of us who consider it more important to build the Nabucco pipeline, we must do more [to ensure its realization],” Mr Gyurcsány said.

Gyurcsány said that the project was not simply a business venture but about the whole of Europe’s energy security, and therefore funding by the European Union and its background institutions was needed. This also means financing from Europe’s big financial institutions, including the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, he said.

“These institutions will represent themselves at the Budapest Nabucco summit. We expect them to commit themselves to participating in the pre-financing in a more unequivocal way,” said Gyurcsány. There is a real chance this year of successfully securing the financing and starting construction next year if the EU considers the conditions sufficiently favorable, he added.

The estimated cost of the project to build 3,300 kilometers of pipeline has risen from €4.5-5 billion to almost €8 billion today.

The thorniest issue concerns who will supply the gas, the prime minister said. Azerbaijan has not yet given a definite yes, while Iran, which has the most significant reserves, is in a delicate position for regional and geopolitical reasons. Turkmenistan has reservations about the delivery route.

“Supplies of exclusively Azerbaijani gas for the future Nabucco pipeline does not appear to be a solution which offers a hundred-percent guarantee; there is a need for further partner countries from the region,” he said.

He said Europe and its member states should regard their relations in terms of gas supply in more complex terms than a simple client-supplier relationship.

“If we are just buyers then our position is one of reliance. If we deliver technology and know how to these countries, we will be more desirable partners,” he said. (MTI-Econews)

Hungary PM: EU must back gas pipeline avoiding Russia

Hungary PM: EU must back gas pipeline avoiding Russia

Source: bbj

Europe must give solid support for the ambitious Nabucco gas pipeline project, Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said Friday following a crisis over Russian gas imports this month.

Europe must give solid support for the ambitious Nabucco gas pipeline project, Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said Friday following a crisis over Russian gas imports this month.

Speaking ahead of a conference on Nabucco in the Hungarian capital next week, Gyurcsany told the MTI news agency that one of the meeting’s main goals was to secure financial and political backing from the European Union.

“We expect the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to make a clearer commitment to pre-financing the project,” the premier said.

“This project is not purely about business but also about Europe’s energy security. It is therefore vital to make sure we have resources that are backed and guaranteed by the EU,” he added.

The meeting on January 26 and 27 will be attended by energy ministers and government leaders from Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Iraq, Romania and Turkey.

Representing the EU will be Energy Commissioner Andris Pielbags and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek in his capacity as current EU president.

Nabucco currently has six shareholders — OMV of Austria, MOL of Hungary, Transgaz of Romania, Bulgargaz of Bulgaria, Botas of Turkey and RWE of Germany.

“The gas supplying countries won’t commit themselves until they’re certain that the pipeline will actually be built. But the countries building the pipeline won’t commit until the supplies of natural gas are guaranteed,” he said.

For the meeting, delegates will arrive for on Monday afternoon and sit down to a working dinner in the evening.

The politicians will then meet in the Hungarian parliament on Tuesday morning and representatives of the participating companies plus other interested oil and gas groups will hold a closed-door meeting in the afternoon.

Geopolitics of the western Balkans and a look back at 2009

Geopolitics of the western Balkans and a look back at 2009

Source: EMportal

Author: Nikos D.A. Arvanites, Mira Dimic

The western Balkans needs a new approach to integrations and challenges so the entire Balkan region can equally bear the burden of the crisis. If a regional solution in the western Balkans fails to the global crisis, every single country will go though a very hard time, facing risks to the countries’ stability and regional piece and the possibility to expand the crisis triggering »the domino effect«.

The world’s financial crisis has gained momentum in Europe and the EU, affecting the western Balkans as well. The past 20 years in the Balkans saw ethnic conflicts, wars, sanctions, transitions and accessions to EU programs and Euro-Atlantic integrations.

The western Balkans is a »bridge« between the EU and the Black Sea – Caspian region and the so called »Caspian Balkans« and the road to the Near and Middle East.The international financial crisis will not only trigger problems at state level but will also hinder communication with the EU and see a slowdown in EU investments in the western Balkans.

Most western Balkans countries are in the Euro-Atlantic integration zone. Romania and Bulgaria, both EU and NATO members, are the corridors of oil and gas coming from Russia. As an EU and a NATO member, Greece is the south gate of the western Balkans as is Hungary – the north gate of the western Balkans.

The western Balkans is facing both transition and the traumas of regional clashes primarily in the former Yugoslavia that made way to countries that are now about to join the EU and NATO.

At their own pace, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are inclined to Europe’s stronger influences through Germany, Austria and Hungary. Their historical and geopolitical concept shows they gravitate towards the program of former Austria-Hungary and »Mitel Europe«. Countries like Serbia, Montenegro and FYRMacedonia and newly-formed Kosovo and Metohija are in a high-risk zone where BiH was formed based on the Dayton Peace Agreement.

A larger part of the western Balkans is apparently turbulent in both financial and political terms. There’s also the international »mortgage« that only an open economy and the majority support of the EU and NATO can bring to an end.

The western Balkans can develop further only if its countries or entire regions join the EU, its programs and NATO. NATO could ensure piece in the region and prevent clashes from the last decade of the 20th century. Its politics in the western Balkans, NATO can see as »a preventive strategy« for deterring eventual clashes .

The EU’s mission in the western Balkans could be a »regional balance« between national interests and economies whose future lies in regional co-existence and exchange. Bulgaria and Romania see themselves as leaders of integrations in the western Balkans and are divided over the interests of the EU and Russia.

Albania’s way into the future is depicted in the EU, NATO primarily. It should be kept in mind that Albania will serve as a »bridgehead« in the international and economic rise of Kosovo and Metohija, a country in the interest zone of the EU and NATO, and confronted to Serbia.

Under resolution 1244SBUN Serbia claims international rights in Kosovo and Metohija. In real terms, there still are major differences between Serbia and »the country of Kosovo and Metohija that is now being developed« and relations between the two that are to be restored. Albania is trying to strengthen its relations with Kosovo and Montenegro in a »mini« regional alliance.

A down economy in the world will have an impact in the western Balkans chiefly on investments coming from EU countries. Overcoming this will require the national economies and diplomatic missions to open up and the regions to connect so as to face up to consequences and create an ambiance for the »balance« of interests.

Energy is a strategic branch for the entire region – via two future gas pipelines, »the South stream« and NABUCO . This should not be a new dimension of the diplomatic and economic conflict between Russia and the United States, with Europe falling »victim« to such politics. Regular supplies of energy, farm produce and cleaner potable water sources in the region will be global challenges lying ahead.

It is necessary that the Balkan countries take a joint economic initiative with full regional stability and join forces in order to deal with challenges that a wave of economic crisis will bring in 2009.

The western Balkans needs a new approach to integrations and challenges so the entire Balkan region can equally bear the burden of the crisis. If a regional solution in the western Balkans fails to the global crisis, every single country will go though a very hard time, facing risks to the countries’ stability and regional piece and the possibility to expand the crisis triggering »the domino effect«.

This global crisis is the chance to set up a regional forum of the countries and governments and come up with a unique program to deal with a number of issues. This also requires national strategies in place that will protect the countries’ own interests. Regional investments will be essential in the western Balkans along with mutual solidarity.

The EU won’t have much strength, capital and goals for the western Balkans and the entire region will have to look for solutions and the EU’s support. The period ahead in the western Balkans is a huge temptation for the politics of the regional balance of interests, co-existence and mutual solidarity.

Zionist Psychosis: Reject International Law, Redefine Reality

So We’ll Skip a Trip to London; We’re Victims Not Palestinians

.Readers Number : 303

25/01/2009 Israel claimed Hamas was turning the victim into an attacker , signaling the Israeli community, following the Gaza war which killed more than 1,300 people and injured more than 5,000 others.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accused Hamas on Sunday of “attempting to turn the victim into the attacker and the attacker into the victim ‘through a spiral moral policy.’

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Olmert addressed calls across the world to put Israel soldiers on trial over war crimes committed in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.

The government approves a motion aimed at backing the soldiers and commanders in case of a wave of lawsuits worldwide following the operation.

The prime minister warned the world of what he defined as “the international slalom aimed at turning the aggressors into victims”.
“This has been the policy of Hamas and the terror organizations for years, to fight until the last drop of blood of Gaza’s residents and hurt them.

“After the operation, the terror organizations are attempting to use different measures to harm us. This is the legal arena. The truth is that they have fired immorally at us, aiming at children and parents rather than at soldiers and military facilities,” Olmert said.

“I am not familiar with a more ethical and decent army than the IDF. I have personally witnessed, and the defense minister and chief of staff can testify to this, many cases in which IDF soldiers refrained from executing operations and moved bombs from their course so as not to hurt civilians – even when terrorists were hiding within a civilian population.”

Israel is accused of excessively using internationally banned weapons like white phosphorus in densely populated areas in Gaza.
Of the victims of the war, over 350 children were killed.

Richard Falk, an independent UN rights expert, said last week there was compelling evidence that Israel breached basic humanitarian rules and the laws of war by conducting a large-scale military operation “against an essentially defenseless population.”

Colonel Yigal Slovik, commander of the 401st Brigade of the Armor Corps, told Ynet on Thursday, “I have no qualms about the manner in which I operated. At worst I’ll be denied entry to a few European countries. My subordinates and I have chosen this profession out of faith in the righteousness of our path; we sacrifice much more than a trip to London.”

Israel’s propaganda mainstay, Sderot, is a lie (like everything else)

Israel’s propaganda mainstay, Sderot, is a lie (like everything else)

Sderot, the Israeli township on which Hamas rockets have been “raining down”, is the main plank of the Israelis’ attempt to justify the bloodshed they have inflicted on the people of Gaza.

They use it ad nauseam to brainwash the media and their own people. They have studiously counted and broadcast the number of erratic, home-made Qassam rockets coming into Israel, without ever admitting to the huge number of missiles, bombs and shells that Israel’s high-tech military fires into Gaza with much more deadly effect.

Those sympathetic to Israel – can there really be any who still wish to be associated with such appalling crimes? – will be mortified to know that Sderot has no business being where it is. It is built on the lands of a Palestinian village called Najd, which was ethnically cleansed by Jewish terrorists in May 1948, before Israel was declared a state and before any Arab armies entered Palestine. The 600-plus villagers were forced to flee for their lives. Britain was on watch as the mandated government, while this and many other atrocities were committed by terrorists.

Palestinian Arabs owned over 90 per cent of the land in Najd and, according to UN Resolution 194 and also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they have a right to return home.

But as we have come to expect, Israel refuses to recognize the rights of others and will not allow them back. Anyway, what is there for them to return to?

The 82 homes there were bulldozed. Najd was one of 418 Palestinian villages and towns ethnically cleansed and wiped off the map by Zionist Jews. Its inhabitants, presumably, became refugees in Gaza and their families are probably still living in camps there. The sweet irony is that some of them were probably manning the rocket launchers – well, wouldn’t you?

Several months ago when Barack Obama visited Sderot (he didn’t have the gumption to call in on Gaza) he spouted the well-worn mantra backing Israel’s right to protect its citizens from rocket attacks. “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing.” Well said, Obama. But presumably you wouldn’t be so stupid or arrogant as to live on land stolen from your neighbour at the point of a gun.

Find yourself some new advisers, Obama, ones that are savvy enough to brief you on the facts about Sderot and everything else about the Palestinians’ plight. Relying on Israeli propaganda lies will only make you look like another mindless Zionist tool.

As the slaughter goes off the dial, what pearls of wisdom are we getting from the European Union?

The Czech EU presidency spokesman defended Israel, saying: “We understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action.” Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, currently leading a EU delegation to the region, said Israel had the right to defend itself, clearly reading off Israeli notes and forgetting that the Palestinians have an equal right to self defence. “Let us realize one thing: Hamas increased steeply the number of rockets fired at Israel since the ceasefire ended on 19 December.”

This staunch ally of Washington understands nothing, as demonstrated when he went on to say that Hamas had excluded itself from serious political debate due to its rocket attacks on Israel. “Why am I one of the few that have expressed understanding for Israel?… I am enjoying the luxury of telling the truth,” said Schwarzenberg. This would have been achingly funny if ignorance at such a senior level weren’t so dangerous! Those silly words earned him a cringe-making thank-you from none other than the American Jewish Committee:

30 December 2008
Dear Minister Schwarzenberg:

On behalf of the American Jewish Committee, we write to thank you for your unwavering public recognition of Israel’s right to self-defence against repeated rocket and mortar attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Your recent comments once again demonstrated the courage and moral clarity of your support for a fellow democracy, Israel, in the face of an unrelenting terrorist threat.

We applaud your principled leadership and your commitment to, in your words, “telling the truth”. We will continue to rely upon both as the Czech Republic assumes the presidency of the European Union…

Richard J. Sideman
David A. Harris

This is what happens when a juggernaut like the EU finds itself “led” by a dumb-ass nobody in an hour of crisis. Back in the 1940s the Czechs supplied Jewish terrorists with weapons to be used against the British. How dare you, Schwarzenberg, make us Britons accomplices in Israel’s crimes? Taint yourself if you wish, but DON’T TAINT US!

President Sarkozy of France told the Lebanese press that Hamas ”bears major responsibility for the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza, because it decided to break the truce and begin launching rockets again into Israel.” Another one who doesn’t do his homework before opening his mouth.

And where is Tony Blair, our wonder peace envoy, in all this? Still trying to find the balls to go to see Hamas. He says: “We are doing everything we possibly can to bring about an end to a situation of immense suffering and deprivation. I know over next few days there are going to be intensive diplomatic efforts. We will increase our efforts to bring about a resolution to this situation.”

So why haven’t there been intensive efforts before now? How many must die or be maimed before you pull your finger out? Tell you what, Tony, if the Israelis won’t listen, say to them in a nice clear voice: “Ceasefire immediately or say goodbye to economic and technological cooperation.” If they still act deaf, you could add: “Say goodbye to your London embassy also. You loons are not taking us Britons down with you.”

In the meantime, Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni reiterated her country’s position, that it was Hamas and not the Palestinian people that were the targets: “This is a war against terror … we have nothing against the Palestinians.” Great. So why does your illegal occupation continue? Why are you still making their lives a misery? Why slaughter their kids? Why trash their infrastructure and public institutions?

Today, I think the last (and most chilling) word goes to Dr Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas. He warned: “They [the Israelis] have legitimized the murder of their own children by killing the children of Palestine. They have legitimized the destruction of their synagogues and their schools by hitting our mosques and our schools.”

Al-Zahar knows all about a father’s grief. He has been the target of assassination attempts. His two sons were killed and his daughter injured in Israeli raids.

By Stuart Littlewood 7 January 2009 Stuart Littlewood views Israel’s amoral friends, from ignoramus Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg to war criminal Tony Blair, whose hypocrisy and lies are helping to sustain the biggest lie of all, Israel.

NATO soldier, over dozen civilians killed in Afghanistan

Kabul – A NATO soldier was killed in southern Afghanistan while US-led forces and local officials and villagers disputed the death toll in an operation in eastern Afghanistan on Friday.

US-led forces claimed Saturday they killed 15 rebels, including a female fighter, in eastern Afghanistan. However, a provincial lawmaker and local villagers said that 21 Afghan civilians were killed in the operation.

The operation, in the eastern province of Laghman, targeted a Taliban commander believed to be involved in moving foreign fighters and weapons into the region, the US military said in a statement.

In the province’s Mehtar Lam district, the combined forces received small arms fire from a group of militants exiting from several compounds, the statement said.

Eleven militants were killed in the firefight, while four others were killed in an airstrike, it said, adding that a female fighter was killed ‘while maneuvering on coalition forces and was carrying a rocket-propelled grenade.’

However, Abdul Rahimzai, head of Laghman’s provincial council, said that Friday night’s attack killed 21 civilians and wounded several others.

‘Several tribal elders in the area contacted me today and said that they took out 21 dead bodies, including women, from the destroyed houses,’ Rahimzai told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Lutfullah Mashal, the provincial governor could not confirm the exact death toll, but said that the operation was not coordinated with the Afghan military or provincial leaders. He said a team had been dispatched to the area to investigate the local people’s assertion.

Angry protester took to streets in the provincial centre, chanting slogans against the US military forces in the country. The protesters asked the central government to punish those behind the ‘ruthless’ attack.

‘There were no Taliban fighters in the area when the US forces came and bombed the village,’ Wali Mohammad, a demonstrator told dpa by phone from the area.

‘I can show you all the bodies, they are all innocent women, children and men,’ he said.

Due to the remoteness of the area, it was difficult to verify the contradictory claims independently.

Meanwhile, NATO-led International forces military alliance in Afghanistan said in a statement that one of NATO soldier was killed by a roadside bomb blast in the nation’s south.

The statement did not disclose the nationality of the soldier, nor did it give an exact location for the incident. The majority of NATO forces deployed in the south are from the United States, Britain, the Netherlands and Canada.

Separately, NATO forces killed a local man suspected of placing a roadside bomb close to an alliance military base in the Gerishk district of southern Helmand province on Thursday, NATO said in a statement.

The man, who was digging close to base left the area after a NATO soldier fired two warning shots, the statement said, adding that the man was shot to death when he returned to the same area and resumed digging.

Separately, one civilian was killed and four others, including a woman and two children, were wounded in a crossfire between NATO forces and suspected Taliban militants in Helmand’s Sangin district, the NATO statement said.

NATO troops airlifted five wounded civilians to a military hospital, where one of them succumbed to his injuries. The rest were reported to be stable.

Civilian casualties at the hand of foreign troops have become a delicate issue in Afghanistan which has created tension between President Hamid Karzai and his international military backers. Karzai, who is facing reelection later this year, has been more critical recently.

In an address to lawmakers last week, Karzai said international forces had not paid attention to his repeated pleas and warned that the fight against terrorism would fail without the support of local people.

Of about 5,000 people killed in the Afghanistan conflict last year, around 2,000 were civilians.

Free Palestine, break ties with apartheid Israel

Free Palestine, break ties with apartheid Israel

Stu Harrison

“Perhaps one day we will understand how wrong our actions in this region have been from time immemorial.”

This is how journalist for Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, David Grossman, summed up Israel’s oppression of Palestine on January 20, two days into the unstable ceasefire that followed the 22-day war on Gaza.

Even the January 19 Time magazine ran a cover story entitled “Why Israel Can’t Win”.

People all over the world have been shocked by Israel’s cruelty in its war on a trapped and besieged people.

With a death toll still rising as more bodies are pulled from under rubble and with hospitals lacking supplies needed to treat the injured due to Israel’s blockade on the Palestinian territory, the numbers dead as a result of Israel’s 22-day straight bombardment exceeds 1300, including more than 400 children. Less than 100 of the dead are believed to be resistance fighters.

Homes, public buildings (including the parliament) and vital industries now lie as rubble.

Despite its unilateral January 18 ceasefire, Israeli troops continue to surround Gaza and a January 21 Al Jazeera report stated that Israeli ships remained in Gazan territorial waters.

Reporting from Gaza, Al Jazeera journalist Ayman Mohyeldin stated: “There is a 600-metre buffer zone which the Israeli army uses as a no-go, meaning that anyone who owns farmland in the area and tries to access it is often fired upon to try to deter them from approaching any closer.”

Hamas, which leads the Palestinian Authority government in Gaza after winning elections in 2006 and defeating a 2007 US-backed coup by forces loyal to West Bank-based Fatah PA president, responded by announcing a ceasefire of its own that gave Israel one week to withdraw all its troops from Gaza.

If Israeli troops remained, Hamas stated it would resume fighting to liberate the territory.

The January 23 Sydney Morning Herald reported: “The war is not over in Gaza. From 7am yesterday, the sounds of heavy shelling from Israeli gunboats stationed off the Gaza coast reverberated around the city.

“Gunfire and explosions could also be heard. By 9am ambulance sirens joined the chorus.”

After 22 days of slaughter, Israel failed to achieve its stated aims. Not only is Hamas still in power, the SMH article reported that the smugglers’ tunnels, that Israel claims are used to smuggle weapons but are also used to bring in food and other necessities in order to get around the blockade, appear to still be operating.

Also, the article reported that rockets have continued to be fired from Gaza into Israel.

For his part, United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki Moon described Israel’s assault on Gaza assault as “shocking and alarming”, according to a January 20 report in the British Guardian.

“This is heartbreaking, the scenes that I have seen. I am not able to describe how I am feeling seeing this site of the bombing of the United Nations compound.”

Standing in front of still-smoking humanitarian food aid in a UN warehouse hit by Israeli fire on January 16, he stated: “This was an outrageous and totally unacceptable attack against the United Nations.”

In the midst of this wanton destruction, calls for charges of war crimes to be brought against Israel’s leaders are growing louder.

The Arab Commission for Human Rights is among 300 human rights groups submitting a 37-page dossier to the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court (ICC) to request action against Israeli war crimes. The ICC is able to adjudicate on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed after 2002.

While Israel is not a member of the ICC, the court is still able to prosecute individuals. The governments of Venezuela and Bolivia have offered to take the case to the ICC. States can take the case one step further by issuing charges against offending nations.

Bolivian government official Sacha Llorenti told AFP on January 17 that it was seeking to gain support for regional governments to present a joint bid to bring those responsible for Israel’s carnage to justice.

Aid organisations have also joined the call, while Amnesty International is demanding action against Israel’s use of white phosphorous against civilian populations.

“Such extensive use of this weapon in Gaza’s densely populated residential neighborhoods is inherently indiscriminate”, Donatella Rovera, a Middle East researcher with Amnesty International, said in a statement.

“Its repeated use in this manner, despite evidence of its indiscriminate effects and its toll on civilians, is a war crime.”

Israeli anti-war activists have established a Hebrew language website, , that details the human rights violations committed by Israeli officials and calls on the ICC to pursue criminal charges.

The bloodshed and destruction associated with Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and denial of their national rights is increasingly being seen as indefensible.

As Yonotan Shapira, a former Israeli air force captain, told BBC News on January 6 when asked about his opinion on the latest Israeli offensive: “I can sum that up in two words, war crime. My government is now engaging in a massive war crime killing hundreds of innocents …”

Shapira noted that thousands of Israelis “are demonstrating right now in the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem”. People “from all kind of background and parts of society”, he said, are “completely ashamed and against this crazy assault”.

Two female reservists refused to deployed to Gaza during the campaign of slaughter on conscientious grounds and were sentenced to 14 days in prison on January 19.

The Guardian reported on January 17 that a group of Israeli academics had called on foreign governments to impose sanctions on Israel over its crimes, pointing out that more than 500 Israeli citizens had signed on to a statement demanding sanctions.

While majority opinion within Israel has remained with the government, a January 20 IPS article reported that ‘the Israeli government is stepping up efforts to suppress dissent and crush resistance in the streets. Police have been videotaping the demonstrations and subsequently arresting protesters in large numbers.

“According to Israeli police reports, at least 763 Israeli citizens, the majority of them Palestinian and 244 under 18 years old, have been arrested, imprisoned or detained for participating in such demonstrations. Most have been held and then released, but at least 30 of those arrested over the past three weeks are still being held in prison.”

Millions of people from around the world took to the streets in opposition to Israel’s war in the largest display of global solidarity with Palestine yet. Hundreds of thousands right across the Arab world took action.

Even the sporting fields have not been immune, as revealed during a Euro Cup basketball game in Turkey between Turk Telekom and Israeli team Bnei Hasharon.

Thousands rallied outside the stadium, according to a January 6 Associated Press report.

Despite only 500 fans being admitted into the stadium under harsh police interrogation, once inside, the crowd quickly unfurled smuggled-in Palestinian flags and chanted “Israeli murderers, get out of Palestine!”.

As players took to the court, shoes were thrown onto the arena before fans clashed with security guards in an attempt to invade the court.

After 90 minutes, with the teams in their changing rooms, all fans were either arrested or dragged from the arena. The Israeli team accepted a forfeit.

There have also been significant protests inside the US, including from many Jewish people determined that Israel’s crimes do not occur in their name. However, in the lead-up to President Barack Obama’s inauguration, only five Congresspeople (out of 535) refused to support a resolution in favour of Israel’s war.

Democratic Congressperson Dennis Kucinich, who opposed the motion, argued that the supplying of arms by the US to Israel constitutes a breech of the Arms Export Control Act 1976, a little-applied law that restricts US arms from being used in wars of aggression.

The gap between popular opinion opposing Israel’s crimes globally and that of Western governments and pro-West Arab regimes stands more exposed than ever.

The West is still attempting to promote the collaborationist regime in the West Bank headed by Abbas as an alternative to the Hamas-led Gaza government, despite the fact that Abbas is increasingly rejected by Palestinians regardless of factional alignment, with support for a strategy of resisting Israel growing stronger.

Abbas has also authorised the repression of rallies in solidarity with Gaza that have occurred in the West Bank.

At an Arab Economic Summit on January 19, Abbas proposed a “national unity” government that would hold “simultaneous presidential and legislative elections”.

Such a proposal merely reflects Abbas’s own weak position and is aimed at buying Israel time by placing demands first and foremost on the Gazan government at a time when Israel’s near-total siege, backed by Western governments, is causing a humanitarian crisis and urgently needs to be lifted if more civilians are not to die.

Israel has near-total control over the lives of Palestinians. Any Palestinian decision can be overruled by Israel.

When Hamas won 2006 PA elections, Israel and its Western allies refused to recognise the result, placing sanctions on the Hamas-led PA government and backing Fatah’s 2007 coup that took control of the West Bank but was repelled in Gaza.

What is really at stake is not the threat of homemade rockets, but the threat to the maintenance of Israel as an apartheid state, run by and for one section of the population over all others.

The real threat, as revealed by Israeli officials in moments of frankness, is the “demographic threat” represented by a growing Palestinian population in both Israel and occupied West Bank and Gaza, which potentially threatens the maintenance of an exclusively Jewish state — which was established through the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Like apartheid in South Africa, a state based on superiority for one ethnic group or religion is inherently unstable and forced to resort to the most brutal violence to survive.

Lasting peace requires democracy and equality — a state for all who live in the area, regardless of their religion or race.

The campaign to isolate Israel diplomatically and economically over their war crimes, as well as to have Israeli leaders brought to justice for their actions, is an essential part of the campaign for justice for the Palestinians, more than a million of whom cannot return to their homeland claimed by Israel.