Tzemech c'tee conclusions elicit sharp reactions

Simhon protests over not being included in discussion over how to manage Israel's natural gas resources.

By NADAV SHEMER
August 24, 2012 01:57
2 minute read.
Agriculture minister Shalom Simhon

Shalom Simhon 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))

Political wrangling over the Tzemach Committee’s conclusions on how to manage Israel’s natural gas resources has begun, even though the final report is yet to be published.

Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon voiced disapproval Thursday over not being included in the discussion. Some opposition MKs have used news leaks about the report as a hook to criticize its suspected final recommendations.

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The final report was distributed to all the members of the Tzemach Committee Wednesday, and is expected to be published officially in the coming weeks.

According to business daily TheMarker, which claimed to have seen a copy of the report, Israel will allow up to 57 percent of the country’s natural gas to be exported while ensuring that enough reserves are set aside to supply the domestic market for 25 years.

The interministerial committee reportedly recommended increasing the amount of gas set aside for the domestic market to 450 million cubic meters, 7% more than it proposed in its interim report. However, it reportedly withdrew its initial proposal that energy companies maintain an operational capacity of 15% of their gas reserves.

Simhon protested the absence of an Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry representative on the committee, in a letter sent to Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau Thursday.

“I learned from the media that the draft final report has been signed and is about to be published,” Simhon said. He added that a representative from his office should have been invited to sit on the committee, as the question of natural gas involves a number of topics that his ministry is responsible for, including industry, foreign trade, on-job training, and job placements.



MK Dov Henin (Hadash) accused the government of favoring the “profits of gas barons” over Israel’s domestic energy needs.

“The government will allow more than half of Israel’s natural gas to be exported, without waiting for a clear picture of gas reserves and without conduction proper analysis of our future energy needs,” he said.

“There is no reason Israelis should pay more for electricity while we continue to import expensive and dirty coals, when transferring the manufacturing of electricity to Israeli gas is cheap.”

On Tuesday, Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich backed Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan’s opposition to what she called “uncontrolled exportation of natural gas.”

Yechimovich said Israel’s primary economic, security and social aim must be to achieve energy independence.

Sharon Udasin contributed to this report.


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