Supreme Court President Asher Grunis 390 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Supreme Court President Asher Grunis on Thursday ordered the state to explain the government's decision not to involve the Knesset in the question of how much of Israel's natural gas reserves should be exported.
The cabinet approved plans to keep 540 billion cubic meters of natural gas at home in June – thereby limiting export quantities to 40 percent of the country’s current reserves. The decision caused a public outcry and opposition politicians, including Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich petitioned the High Court of Justice against the government's action.
Petition signers in addition to Yacimovich include Economic Affairs Committee chairman MK Avishay Braverman (Labor), MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) and MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu).
“Despite the enormous importance of the decision and despite the obligation to anchor it in the legislative framework of the Knesset, the Israeli government refrained from taking the requested democratic side and decided to avoid bringing the subject for a democratic, transparent and comprehensive discussion in the Knesset,” the petition reads.
The petition was scheduled to be discussed before a three-justice High Court panel on Thursday, but Grunis said that the issue warranted review by an extended panel of judges. He called on the state to explain itself when the discussion is renewed before an expanded panel on Monday.
Yacimovich referred to Grunis's decision as greatly important and dramatic. "The High Court recognized the supreme importance of the subject, she stated.
"It's too bad that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Finance Minister Lapid did not understand by themselves the obvious - that this is a fateful decision for the future of Israel which cannot be made hastily and in closed rooms, but should be decided in a transparent and comprehensive process with the public's cooperation."
She called on Netanyahu to move the issue to the Knesset for discussion immediately.Sharon Udasin contributed to this report.