While the liberation struggles of the oppressed and exploited have always been struggles over material resources and over what relations humans should have with their natural environment, recent periods have brought the struggles to stop environmental destruction and climate change to the fore, all across the imperialist world system, from peripheries to metropoles. Similarly, the struggle for a liberated Palestinian society, from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, has always been a struggle for the possibility of its peoples to determine their paths to sustainable futures. Currently, an international project, the EastMed fossil gas pipeline, is being planned by Israel, its allies in the region and its imperialist backers, which if successful will both entrench the Zionist settler colonial occupation of Palestine and do great harm to the environment and efforts to halt that existential threat of humanity, the climate crisis. We as Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network stand with the international campaign to stop the EastMed pipeline and invite all to join us.
Introduction to EastMed: What is the EastMed pipeline?
The EastMed pipeline is a planned 1.900 km fossil gas pipeline (1.300 km underwater, 600 km on land) going from Israel through Cyprus to Greece and onwards to mainland Europe (through an additional 300 km pipeline from Greece to Italy called Poseidon). Financial investors and political supporters include Israel, the EU and EU member states, the Gulf states, and the United States, with companies planned to construct, operate and eventually make use of the pipeline based in those countries as well. With plans of the pipeline arguably reaching back to at least 2013, the partners, Israel, Cyprus and Greece, will make a final investment decision in 2022 and hope to complete construction of the pipeline in 2025.
The project is estimated to cost €6 billion ($7,3 billion) until construction is finalized, and is estimated to annually produce up to 20 billion cubic meters (350 billion cubic feet) of gas for European consumption. The EU Commission considers the project to be a top priority and has both granted it considerable financial support and provided it a special status which provides it with preferential treatment. Supporters of the EastMed pipeline project argue that it will offer a sustainable energy source (even by calling the term “natural gas” instead of “fossil gas”) for the EU and its member states as well as peace, security and economic prosperity for the region.
Economic and Ecological Viability
However, already on mere technical points, the anticipated international infrastructure project is facing serious critique. On the issue of meeting the gas needs of the EU and its member states, it has been remarked that not only are current and projected needs already being met, the demand for it is seeing a decrease (which, remarkably, is in line with the climate strategy of the EU Commission, one of the great supporters of the EastMed pipeline project, itself). Simultaneously, the economical profitability of fossil gas extraction in general and the €6 billion EastMed pipeline specifically, believed to become one of Europe’s longest and the world’s deepest, is seriously questioned.
Finalizing and running the pipeline profitably highlights another significant area of criticism, namely its ecological consequences. Keeping the fossil gas pipeline operational until it reimburses its investors and starts generating a profit would result in unsustainable amounts of greenhouse gas emissions (in violation of global climate agreements). Reportedly, the pipeline is projected to annually emit more greenhouse gases “than the biggest coal factory in Europe.“ The location and design of the pipeline itself are sources of environmental concern: the ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea would be disturbed by the massive infrastructure project and in constant danger of toxic leaks from the pipeline, especially considering its placement in areas with frequent earthquakes.
The pipeline and solidarity with the Palestinian resistance
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network acknowledges and supports the struggle against the construction of the EastMed pipeline, and we encourage all progressive, radical and revolutionary forces around the world to join in this struggle. The struggle against what is nothing less than an imperialist endeavor of resource extraction, great power competition and immiseration of the world’s masses is indivisible from the struggle for the freedom of all Palestinan prisoners, for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees and for a liberated, democratic Palestine, from the river to the sea.
The existential question for all of humanity of climate change and environmental destruction cannot be separated from and cannot be addressed without the liberation of Palestine and its exploited and oppressed masses from Zionist occupation, without the success of progressive, radical and revolutionary forces in the region and internationally against the forces of imperialism and reaction. The centrality of not only popular participation and leadership in the struggle for emancipation has long been a foundation of the Palestinian revolutionary movement, as expressed by imprisoned liberation leader Ahmad Sa’adat, ”Palestine will be freed by the people, not the elites”, in the analyses in the historic foundational document Strategy for the Liberation of Palestine, and beyond. In the EastMed context, we see this issue not the least in the open participation of regional reactionary regimes as well as the Palestinian Authority in forums of collaboration with the Israeli occupation and its imperialist partners: the US, the EU, France and others.
Connecting the struggles related to EastMed
In joining the international the struggle against the EastMed pipeline and fossil imperialism in the region, we acknowledge that the plunder of resources and the annihilation of the conditions of life are part and parcel of the conditions forced upon the Palestinian people: From the ongoing expulsion and displacement of millions of Palestinian refugees, the practice of land theft through aggressive settler colonial expansion in the West Bank to the military siege of the Gaza Strip and its 2 million Palestinian inhabitants, involving the forcible and sometimes lethal periodic prohibition of fishing and farming in its waters and on its land. The Gaza Strip is in fact the only official Palestinian territory with any access to the Mediterranean Sea, with gas reserves located in its formally internationally recognized waters. Under the military siege, and after several brutal military aggressions, the Gazan economy is in shambles, not the least its energy sector, an injury all the worse as this had led to an overflow of waste and sewage in the Gaza Strip, polluting its lands and waters.
Resisting the EastMed pipeline as an international imperialist project of competition, domination and accumulation reflects that the struggle for the liberation of Palestine is deeply connected to the wider indigenous people’s movements and radical climate movements across the world. Starting out in Palestine, the gas question is a crucial part of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination; Israel is stealing Palestinian gas, and it should be the liberated Palestinian people deciding democratically how they will (or will not!) utilize it, as with any other any other resource between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. Likewise, all financial, political and other benefits of the gas fields belong to the Palestinian people, instead of further strengthening the colonizer and its international backers. Importantly, and this almost goes without saying, stopping the EastMed project is a natural step for all engaged in anti-normalization and BDS actions and campaigns, as Israeli participation in the international fossil gas trade strengthens Israel’s regional and international position significantly.
The Palestinian struggle against the Zionist colonial occupation, its reactionary collaborators in the region and its international imperialist allies, echoes many struggles all around the planet – as once voiced by the late Palestinian revolutionary leader Ghassan Kanafani: “The Palestinian cause is not a cause for Palestinians only, but a cause for every revolutionary, wherever he is, as a cause of the exploited and oppressed masses in our era.” Over the whole world indigenous communities are fighting against pipelines, environmental exploitation and extraction of non-renewable resources, from the Americas to Africa. For many people, especially the resisting communities, this is a natural connection and was among others visible during the Dakota Access Pipeline, or #NoDAPL, protests.
Call to Action
The struggle to protect the environment and stop climate change, shoulder to shoulder with indigenous struggle and the struggle of peasants and all others who live in close connection with the land and the sea, takes many shapes around the world. From the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra in Brazil and the popular rural and urban mass movements of the Philippines, to the sprawling efforts to undo the brutally long lasting effects that have survived apartheid in South Africa and the struggle of the indigenous Sami people in the Sápmi region of northern Europe. In fact, Sami activists occupied the streets of Stockholm, capital of Sweden, together with climate activists last autumn, roughly a year after the successful large scale radical climate action ”Folk mot fossilgas” (“People Against Fossil Gas”) forced the country’s government to retract support for a large fossil fuel project. As late as on Monday 1 February 2021, the two direct action groups Palestine Action and Extinction Rebellion blockaded a factory in the UK owned by Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest private arms company, with the aim to perform further actions until the company shuts down.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network stands with all progressive forces around the world against imperialism, reaction and colonial oppression and exploitation. We therefore stand with the calls, Palestinian and international, to stop the EastMed pipeline, and just as we reject the theft of homes, of lands and of livelihoods and lives in Palestine, we reject the theft of fossil gas from the Palestinian peoples, and uphold the right of a liberated Palestinian people to democratically decide over the use of the resources in Palestine, from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.
We call upon all progressive, radical and revolutionary forces around the world to adopt the following goals:
- Stop all trade of stolen Palestinian fossil gas.
- Stop the EastMed pipeline.
As a first step in engaging in local, regional and international work, we call on all organizations and individuals to sign and support the call by the international climate network Gastivists to stop the EastMed pipeline:
Further reading related to the EastMed pipeline: