Israel's natural gas.
(photo credit: MINISTRY OF NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURES)
Terrorist organizations have already tried – and failed – to attack Israel’s natural gas infrastructure, Israel’s National Security Council head Yossi Cohen told a Knesset panel on Sunday.
“Already during Operation Protection Edge, there were attempts to damage our platform, and luckily, these weapons were not accurate enough and did not succeed in causing harm,” Cohen said.
While those attempts may have failed, Cohen warned that the “means of fighting possessed by the terror organizations that surround us are more sophisticated and precise and our vulnerability is increasing.”
The NSC head was addressing the Economic Affairs Committee Sunday morning, during the ninth of a series of final advisory discussions that are a prerequisite toward implementing the country’s long-disputed natural gas outline.
Despite receiving government approval in August, fully activating the outline now requires the economy minister to invoke a legal clause to sidestep the Antitrust Authority’s objections – Article 52 of the 1988 Restrictive Trade Practices Law (the Antitrust Law). To do so, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who because economy minister when Arye Deri resigned from the position in early November – must first consult with the Economic Affairs Committee. Netanyahu can invoke Article 52 by citing national security interests and foreign policy concerns.
Cohen discussed how Israel’s security in the Middle East will increasingly face challenges, but can also be strengthened by relationships it has cultivated with its neighbors – including Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece and potentially Turkey.
“We have a no-less significant interest in creating strategic economic relations, also by means of Israeli gas, with the countries I mentioned,” he said. “As our strategic relations become deeper both internally and externally, the status of Israel in our region will improve.”
Although Israel possesses warships dedicated to protecting gas infrastructure, Cohen stressed his concerns that regional terrorism campaigns continue to pose a threat to such facilities. As a result, he explained, it is critical to both ensure supply redundancy at home and cement relations with friendly neighbors.
“At the present time, it is correct to export and sell, and stabilize the Israeli gas market in Israel,” Cohen said, “the sooner the better.”