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January 29, 2015 / 9 Shevat, 5775
 
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Bill Clinton Tried to Block Israel’s Taxing Newly-Found Gas

Bill Clinton’s wealth is more than $55 million. He gets a double dividend as a paid energy lobbyist and being a “friend” of Israel by lobbying against the government’s taxing newly-found gas.

Lobbyist Bill Clinton and Israeli lobbyist Ehud Barak

Lobbyist Bill Clinton and Israeli lobbyist Ehud Barak
Photo Credit: Flash 90

Former Bill Clinton, the man who unwittingly carried out his promise for a “New Middle East,” worked as a paid lobbyist to pressure Israel against increasing taxes on natural gas from huge off-shore energy fields, former Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed.

Clinton’s wealth is estimated at well over $55 million, making him the richest living president, but no one knows better than him that “enough is never enough,” especially when it comes to “helping” Israel.

One of his most famous “accomplishments” as president was to engineer the signing of the Oslo Accords, with a grinning Yasser Arafat and Yitzchak Rabin at his side on the White House lawn. Clinton promised a “new Middle East,” and we got one when the Oslo Accords literally exploded in Israel’s face in 2002.

Clinton has not given up his version of helping Israel while making pocket money to boot.

Israel has the wonderful problem of figuring out how much to tax the gigantic natural gas pumped from discoveries off the Mediterranean Coast. The energy fields will bring billions of dollars in profits for energy companies, and the government wants a share of the natural wealth.

As Finance Minister, Steinitz proposed raising taxes on companies that developed the natural resources. The energy firms still would be left with envious profits but wanted to stop the tax hike, a reasonable objective for any company.

Clinton’s agreement to be its front-man raises serious questions about the ethics of a former president lobbying a foreign country.

“Pressure [against the tax hike] began from the White House,” Steinitz told the Hebrew language Maariv newspaper.

“The energy companies hired American lobbyists, including former President Bill Clinton, who sent letters and had discussions to dismantle the Shashinsky Commission,” which examined the natural gas issue, “and to stop the tax law.”

“Members of the U.S. Congress asked me for clarifications,” Steinitz said. “We began to feel a sense of pressure, as if we were doing something impeachable to commercial ties between the two countries. I tried to explain that we are among the countries earning the lowest rates from natural gas and petrol, that we get nothing and that the citizens of Israel have as much moral right to profit from public resources as do private companies.”

The Shashinsky recommendations for a tax increase in November 2010, and the pressure decreased, apparently under orders of President Barack Obama.

No one has accused Clinton of doing anything illegal, but the ethics of the former president’s polices and accumulation of wealth following his terms of office deserve examination.

“Between 1997 and 2003 …You went from a period, a regime, where people did have at least some concern about going to jail, to a point where everything is legal. …Looking back I would say that this period definitely started under Clinton,” said Charles Ferguson, whose documentary film Inside Job in 2010 won an Academy Award.

Clinton certainly did not have to lobby against Israel for lack of money.

“I never had any money until I got out of the White House, you know, but I’ve done reasonably well since then,” Clinton has said in an understatement that would be laughable if not true.

“Reasonably well?” Let’s check.

As a lame duck president in December 2000, Clinton signed into law the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, which ensured that derivatives could not be regulated. Two months later, shortly after leaving the White House, Clinton received $125,000 from Morgan Stanley for a speech Clinton he delivered to the company in New York City.  A few weeks later, Credit Suisse also hired Clinton for a speech, at a $125,000 speaking fee, according to the NakedCapitalism.com website.

“It’s not a coincidence that deregulation accelerated in the late 1990s, as Clinton and his whole team began thinking about their post-Presidential prospects,” the site added.

If Clinton was only somewhat rich man before becoming president, he has more than made up for lost change.

In the decade after the end of his second term, he pocketed nearly $10 million for speaking fees. That comes out to a lot more than his hourly wage as president.

And who paid for the privilege of hearing his wisdom?

Citigroup: $250,000; Deutsche Bank, $150,000; Goldman Sachs, $300,000 for two speeches, and that is only three coins in the fountain.

His lobbying for energy companies against the interests of the Israeli government is not the only questionable area of his employment.

Questions have been raised about close ties between Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, President Obama and lobbyists for Keystone XL project to carry crude from the tar sands of Alberta to the refineries of Texas.

The London Guardian reported, “Friends of the Earth said on Thursday they were expanding their freedom of information request for emails between State Department officials and the pipeline company after learning of seven more pipeline lobbyists who had worked on Obama and Clinton’s presidential campaigns, or had ties to Bill Clinton.”

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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12 Responses to “Bill Clinton Tried to Block Israel’s Taxing Newly-Found Gas”

  1. So youre point is that Clinton is unethical? I think we already know that.

  2. BOY THESE JERKS THINK THEY RUN THE WORLD!

  3. Gil Gilman says:

    Ethics never stopped Bill Clinton before, it won't stop him now, nor will it in the future. The real issue is this: who in their right mind in Israel will listen to the self-serving tripe. Unfortunately for Mr. Clinton, this is the age of the net, and nothing he does goes unnoticed anymore than what he says.

  4. I guess the scores of millions of dollars that Arabs pumped into his libray and foundation don't count here. This is just from 2007, and includes just the Saudi gift… http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/14/AR2007121402124.html

    He had Arafat to the Whie House a dozen times and got Ehud Barak at Camp David and Taba to yield UNSC Res. 242's promise after the 6-Day Wa rof secure, more defensible borders, offereing Arafat almost all of Judea and Samaria, the "West Bank." While the Egyptian ghoul refused, that became the new starting point in subsequent "negotiations."

    http://www.geraldahonigman.com/blog/2011/11/15/slick-willy-bibi-and-grateful-arab-petro-potentates/

  5. I guess the scores of millions of dollars that Arabs pumped into his libray and foundation don't count here. This is just from 2007, and includes just the Saudi gift… http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/14/AR2007121402124.html

    He had Arafat to the Whie House a dozen times and got Ehud Barak at Camp David and Taba to yield UNSC Res. 242's promise after the 6-Day Wa rof secure, more defensible borders, offereing Arafat almost all of Judea and Samaria, the "West Bank." While the Egyptian ghoul refused, that became the new starting point in subsequent "negotiations."

    http://www.geraldahonigman.com/blog/2011/11/15/slick-willy-bibi-and-grateful-arab-petro-potentates/

  6. Lloyd Bergner says:

    Oslo caused enough damage to Israel. Jewish blood was spilled as a result, for which Clinton and Shimon Peres are both responsible. We would like to see Clinton stay away from Israel. As far as Shimon Peres is concerned, looks like we are stuck with him.

  7. Harold Taback says:

    What tax rate does Suadi Arabia levy. What tax rate does Norway levy. What tax rate does Russia levy.

  8. Dave Rubin says:

    Who do you know who is ethical and above greed and corruption. Do you consider youself ethical and have you practiced it in your affairs?

  9. Dan Silagi says:

    One minor correction: Clinton is the richest living ex-president, with the probable exception of George H. W. and George W. Bush. The richest living (and otherwise) president is Barack Obama.

    The U.S. provides tax breaks to oil and gas drillers, as an incentive for producing more. Some may disagree, but I believe that's smart policy. The less dependent we are on foreign oil (except possibly Canadian), the better we are.

    The same goes for Israel, which gets most of its oil and gas from not-so-friendly exporters. The same tax breaks should apply there as here. Tsvi, your hatred of everything Clintonian is showing, and it makes you (and your publication) look like complete jerks.

  10. Dan Silagi says:

    If Clinton were in favor of "resettlement" of the Palestinians rather than a two-state solution, we'd be hearing quite a different tune from Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu.

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