As Economic Affairs Committee members bashed the country’s long-disputed natural gas outline as detrimental to the public during a heated three-hour session on the subject Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the document’s vital role in achieving energy security.
“You and your colleagues reject the security and foreign policy interest in our considerations,” Netanyahu told the committee’s chairman, MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union). “The opposite is true; we are going to ensure the energy security of Israel.
“Energy security is critical not just the function of the state, but to ensuring its existence,” the prime minister added.
Assuming his alternate role of economy minister that morning, Netanyahu addressed the committee in the tenth of a series of discussions that are a prerequisite to implementing the gas outline. Although the deal in question received required cabinet approval in August, fully activating the outline demands that the economy minister invoke a legal clause to sidestep the Antitrust Authority’s objections – Article 52 of the 1988 Restrictive Trade Practices Law (The Antitrust Law).
While the article has never before been implemented in Israel’s history, an economy minister can do so by citing national security or foreign policy interests. After former economy minister Arye Deri resigned from his position last month, it became Netanyahu’s duty in that role to consult with the Economic Affairs Committee prior to activating Article 52.