The 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid defines apartheid as “…inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them”. The Convention listed a number of acts as being potentially part of an apartheid system, including: the denial of liberty, causing physical harm, torture, arbitrary arrest, denying economic, social and cultural rights, and racial division, exploitation and persecution. Importantly, these acts alone do not make a situation of apartheid. When they contribute to an overall system of racial division and oppression, then they constitute acts of apartheid.
‘Energy apartheid’ therefore refers to those aspects of the overall system of Israel’s oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people that relate to the production, supply and consumption of energy. Energy apartheid is one part of a whole system of laws, policies, ethnic cleansing actions and dispossession that seek to perpetuate the domination of Israel’s Jewish population over the Arab population (including Palestinian refugees, Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinians in the occupied territories and the Bedouin).
In both of the case studies below, the Israeli government, with the complicit support of the Israel Electric Company and those who assist the energy system, are contributing to energy apartheid. In the Gaza Strip this involves using the electricity and fuel system to inflict massive destruction of life and human rights; in the Naqab this takes the form of dispossession of land and resources and the exclusion of the Bedouin from energy infrastructure.
Energy Apartheid and the Naqab
The ‘Prawer Plan’ is the innocuous sounding name for the biggest project of ethnic cleansing carried out by Israel since 1967 and so far, it is receiving scant attention by the international community or global mainstream media. The plan seeks to forcefully expel (i.e. ethnically cleanse) between 30,000-50,000 Bedouin Palestinian citizens of Israel from 850,000 dunums of their land in the Naqab desert, push them into an area that represents a mere 1% of the land to be confiscated. In the process, 40 ‘unrecognised villages’ will be demolished, fulfilling David Ben Gurion’s racist vision of Judaising the remainder of the Naqab. Wood Groupinvolvement
The villages earmarked for destruction under the Prawer Plan will not benefit from Wood Group’s power station. As so-called “unrecognised villages”, Israel refuses to connect them to the electricity grid. If Israel is allowed to succeed in this latest wave of ethnic cleansing and newly built Jewish-only communities replace the Palestinian Bedouin ones, we can probably assume they will be powered with electricity from the nearby Wood Group-built plant. If so, not only would this constitute a clear case of energy apartheid it would moreover implicate one of Scotland’s most successful companies in what would be the biggest case of ethnic cleansing in the 21st century.
The timing of the power plant’s completion and the implementation of the Prawer Plan may not be mere coincidence. As previously noted, initial research has revealed that along with Keter Plastic ( with its operations in illegal West Bank settlements) and the notorious Israeli water company Mekorot, electricity from the plant will be sold to the Israeli Ministry of Defence. The Israeli Army has already been relocating its training bases to the South and at least some of the land to be seized in the Prawer Plan is earmarked for housing Israeli soldiers stationed at these bases. Even if no hard evidence can be found linking the Wood Group to the Prawer Plan, contracts with the Israeli apartheid state alone, and the sheer proximity of the infrastructure they’re building to the Naqab, present a clear case of guilt by association.