On the eve of Sunday’s cabinet session during which a decision on gas exports is
scheduled to take place, a number of Knesset members drafted letters to Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the other ministers demanding that they transfer
the decision to the Knesset.
“In order to help the legislative process of
gas export, the Economic Affairs Committee will also work in August,” wrote MK
Avishay Braverman (Labor). “The committee will continue discussions in August in
order to hear all the sides, of the government, the public and the developers,
and will formulate a bill that will be good for the citizens and the economy of
Braverman warned that “if the decision is not accepted by the
Knesset it will have no legitimacy.”
Netanyahu, along with Finance
Minister Yair Lapid, Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom and outgoing Bank
of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, completed a proposal on Wednesday
maintaining 540 billion cubic meters of natural gas at home, an increase of 90
b.cu.m. from the original 450 b.cu.m. recommended by the inter-ministerial Zemach
Committee. This would allow for approximately 40 percent of the gas to be
exported, as opposed to the original 53% presented by the committee, which was
led by Energy and Water Ministry Director-General Shaul
Environmentalists who had been up in arms about the original
numbers, stressing that more gas was needed at home, were still not satisfied
with the newly proposed allocations, and demanded that a transparent Knesset
discussion occur, rather than a government decision on Sunday.
not respond individually, but have stressed the importance of passing a stable,
certain export policy as soon as possible to allow for the drilling of Israel’s
reserves in the Leviathan basin as well as encourage future
On Thursday, however, deputy attorney-general Avi Licht
published an opinion stating that passing such a decision in the cabinet rather
than in the Knesset may be legally problematic.
Meanwhile, MK Eitan Cabel
(Labor) is aiming to gather the 40 Knesset member signatures necessary to
necessitate a discussion of the issue in the Knesset with the presence of the
prime minister. He published a message on his Facebook page on Saturday morning
calling on the government to involve the public in this debate.
are too many cases in which we trusted the ‘experts’ who explained to us how the
state is going to profit,” Cabel wrote. “These are the same experts who brought
us to a deficit of NIS 40 billion. I don’t believe them anymore.”
On Saturday night, hundreds of activists protested in the center of Jerusalem against the export of the natural gas, Israel Radio reported.
The police stopped eight protesters for questioning after they attempted to block traffic on King George Street, according to the report. Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.