Israel’s Security Cabinet authorizes gas agreement

Jun 25, 2015 12:00 AM

The Security Cabinet of Israel unanimously authorized the compromise outline agreement regarding the regulation of the Israeli gas market, defining the issue as an issue of security in order to bypass the Antitrust Commissioner.

Following a 3-hour debate, the Security Cabinet of Israel unanimously authorized this afternoon (Thursday) the compromise outline agreement regarding the regulation of Israel’s gas market. The agreement was approved after Israeli Economy Minster Aryeh Deri protested the conditions of the agreement and renounced his authorities to the government.

The Cabinet ministers claimed that “at the current point in time it is of crucial importance to quickly promote the development and expansion of the natural gas reserves discovered near Israel’s coast due to considerations regarding the state’s security and foreign relations.” The meaning of this approval lies in the definition of the gas issue as an issue of security, a definition that will allow ministers to bypass the Antitrust Commissioner. Deri’s protest apparently stemmed from the fact that he would be the minister who would need to bypass the Antitrust Commissioner in practice.

The agreement will now have to pass another government vote next week, but is expected to receive the support of the majority of government ministers. After being approved, the issue will be debated at the Knesset Economic Committee and will then go through a public hearing, in which the public will be able to address the agreement and try to insert changes to the current compromise.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz congratulated the Cabinet’s decision and claimed it will prevent a possible freeze in the gas market. “If the energy companies would not agree to search for gas in Israel, we would have been left with gas at the bottom of the sea,” he stated, dismissing the claims that the government gave in to the energy companies’ demands. “We achieved unprecedented concessions from the companies in addition to the hundreds of millions we will get from them,” he claimed. “We are the only western country that set limits on export, the only country that set a price limit and the only country that told the companies that found the gas to leave several of the rigs – and they agreed to everything.”

“We will not benefit if Tshuva gets rich.

“We will not benefit if Tshuva gets rich." Yachimovich

Opposition members and environmental organizations, on the other hand, criticized the agreement, claiming that it strengthens the monopoly of Tshuva and his partners. “We will not benefit if Tshuva gets rich,” claimed Zionist Camp MK Shelly Yachimovich. “The electricity will become more expensive and so will our consumer goods.” Yachimovich also criticized MKs Deri and Kahlon for deciding to pull out of the debates on the issue.

On Saturday, a demonstration will be held outside the office of Energy Minister Steinitz under the slogan “only a civil struggle will stop the gas theft”. Environmental organizations called on the public to join the demonstration and demand a public debate on the issue of gas monopoly.

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