Will Israel Approve Natural Gas Monopoly?

The Knesset plenum will vote Monday on giving the government the authority to decide the details of a deal with Israel's natural gas monopoly.

It is still not clear whether or not Yisrael Beytenu will support and vote with the Coalition. The party's chairman, Avigdor Liberman, said Sunday that the faction intends to study the matter before deciding how to vote. The party will convene a faction meeting at 2:30 pm, and announce its position an hour later – 30 minutes before the vote.

Meanwhile, the Coalition has informed Ministers Haim Katz, Moshe Kahlon and Yoav Galant that they are not legally forbidden from taking part in the vote despite connections with heads of the gas companies. Therefore, as far as the Coalition is concerned, they must either vote in favor of the measure, or find someone in the Opposition to cancel out with them.

The three had intended not to vote because of these personal connections. However, with Coalition and Opposition so close to each other numerically, every vote counts, and the three ministers will not be allowed to opt out.

The Security Cabinet on Thursday unanimously decided to pass a compromise deal over the natural gas monopoly, in a move meant to quickly develop the state's natural offshore gas fields.

In announcing the decision, the Cabinet said in a statement that "at this time, it is of decisive importance to move quickly to develop and expand the natural gas fields that have been discovered off Israel's coasts, out of concern for state security and the foreign relations of the State of Israel."

US giant Noble Energy and its Israeli partner Delek have played a dominant role in producing gas from the Leviathan and Tamar offshore gas fields. The new compromise deal is thought to include a sort of amnesty for Noble and Delek, essentially letting them off the hook for establishing a natural gas cartel, while implementing measures to break apart that monopoly.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said earlier on Thursday that the gas companies agreed to the dictates of the state, and as a result an excellent deal was achieved for Israel and its citizens.

He said that according to the deal the monopoly will be broken apart, Israel will obtain energy security and millions of dollars in income.

"The government in another month will vote on the entire deal," wrote Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) on Facebook after the Cabinet meeting. "I want to praise Minister Steinitz who reached an agreement with the gas companies; even though the deal isn't complete it is good for citizens of the state of Israel and serves our geopolitical interests in the Middle East and the entire world."

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/197419

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *