After four straight months of falling gasoline prices, the party appears to be over for Israeli drivers – and the shock to the system is likely to be drastic, just weeks before Israelis head for the polls. Beginning March 1, gas prices are likely to rise 33 to 35 agorot per liter, to a price of NIS 6.40 per liter – equivalent to $6.21 a gallon.
And that is not the final word on the matter, as events in the US conspire to increase gas prices even more.
Israeli gas prices are adjusted twelve times a year, at the beginning of the secular calendar month, with the maximum allowed price adjusted upwards or downwards depending on how much oil costs on the market. The price of oil had been slipping in recent months, dipping below $50 a barrel, but last week it jumped to over $60.
Since then, oil prices have fallen again, which could mean a drop in the projected gas price. On the other hand, a major strike at oil refineries in the US could squeeze supplies, leaving prices higher as supply dries up and U.S. demand remains strong, the result of the extremely cold weather that has wreaked havoc in much of the US.
In any event, officials in Israel said that a price hike on gas was likely, as futures contracts have been rising in recent weeks as well. It remains to be seen what a sharp increase in the cost of gasoline will do to the mood of voters just two weeks before they go to the polls.
It should be noted that 65% of the cost of gasoline in Israel is due to taxes, both direct and indirect.