Government unclear if it can get majority for critical gas-related vote

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September 7, 2015 05:34
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The government’s ability to garner a majority in the Knesset for its proposal to transfer authority to approve its natural gas agreement from Economy Minister Arye Deri to the full cabinet, which is necessary to enact the deal in the coming months, remained in doubt ahead of Monday’s vote.

The gas outline was still on the Knesset’s docket for Monday at press time, as was transferring the authority to use Article 52 of the Antitrust Law, which allows an economy minister to circumvent the antitrust commissioner’s objections if there are national security or foreign policy concerns, since Deri refuses to sign use the workaround on his own.

However, in light of continued uncertainty as to whether or not the coalition could pull together enough votes on either item, there is a chance that the vote will be postponed.

Without a majority to transfer Deri’s authority, the government will not be able to move forward with the gas outline itself anytime soon, leaving it exposed to the possibility that gas-field developers Noble Energy and Delek Group will turn to arbitration.

Several sources close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were unable to answer the question as to how he could get a majority for transferring Deri’s authority.

The coalition already failed to do so in July, when the vote was removed from the Knesset agenda late at night after the prime minister spent hours trying to convince Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), Construction Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) and Welfare Minister Haim Katz (Likud) to vote for the transfer of authority. They refused to vote because they have financial conflicts of interest with the gas deal, even though Article 52 is a technical matter and not the actual outline.

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