Israel eyes Iraqi oil
By Simon Wilson
An Israeli minister says he wants to reopen a pipeline
which has been closed for more than fifty years to bring
Iraqi oil through Jordan to Israel's Mediterranean coast.
A spokesman for the infrastructure minister, Joseph Paritzky,
said the move would cut fuel costs in Israel and help
egenerate the port city of Haifa.
There has been no official comment yet from Jordan, but any
suggestion that Israel might benefit from the fall of
Saddam Hussein is likely to enrage many people in Arab countries.
The pipeline was built after Britain took control of Iraq,
Jordan and what was then British mandate Palestine after
the First World War.
The section from Iraq to Jordan is still functioning, but
the route from Jordan to the port of Haifa, which is now in
Israel, was cut in 1948 when the British pulled out.
The Israeli infrastructure ministry says reopening the
pipeline would give easy access to Iraqi oil, cut fuel
costs in Israel and help regenerate Haifa which has
suffered badly in Israel's economic recession.
At the moment this appears to be a personal initiative by
the infrastructure minister who is from the secular Shinui
Party, rather than any official policy of Ariel Sharon's
In any case, Jordan may find it difficult to align itself
publicly with a project which would cause outrage in much
of the Arab world.