Shaul Zemach 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy Ministry of Energy)
The Green Movement Party is calling upon government officials to reject the
recommendations of the Zemach Commission to allow for export of over 50 percent
of Israel’s natural gas.
Such a decision would “cause unprecedented
damage for Israel’s future generations,” the party said.
proposals would hurt the country if accepted, and any decision about how much
gas to export can only be made after the country develops a comprehensive energy
strategy, according to the party.
Two weeks ago, the commission, led by
Energy and Water Ministry director-general Shaul Zemach, recommended in its
report that the government limit natural gas exports to 500 billion cubic meters
over 25 years, leaving a reserve of at least 450 billion cu. m. for domestic
Although the Green Movement and other green organizations, such as
advocacy group Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense), have
come out strongly against large exports of gas, Energy and Water Minister Uzi
Landau has stressed that exporting portions of the gas will be a mechanism for
strengthening regional ties and generating revenue – all the while preserving
sufficient amounts for domestic needs.
On behalf of Green Movement
co-chairs Prof. Alon Tal and Racheli Tedhar this week, attorney Gilead Barnea
sent a letter to many senior government officials to signal the beginning of a
party-sponsored legal intervention with reference to the proposed export and
The letter demands that the government define a maximum
price for natural gas sold in Israel, to deal with what the Green Movement calls
the Tamar field monopoly, referring to the offshore gas field 80 km. west of
Haifa. In addition, the letter asks that the government delay all approvals for
export permits until officials definitively determine the available reverses and
the country’s domestic needs.
“Export of natural gas constitutes one of
the most meaningful economic decisions that has been made in this country for
many years, with implications for future citizens of Israel for decades to
come,” Tal said. “The absence of a clear vision and a long-term strategy which
seeks to utilize existing gas reserves for an optimal energy policy that
preserves gas fields for future use in Israel for the next 50 years, is a folly
that future generations may well come to regret.”
Twelve years ago,
Britain decided to export so much of its North Sea natural gas that the country
ended up needing to import 40 percent of its gas supplies from Russia at very
expensive rates, Tal explained, adding that this proportion is only
By enabling high-volume exports, the government would effectively
be “granting private consortiums astronomical profits” while leaving Israel
vulnerable, rather than secure in its energy supplies, Tal added.
response to the Green Movement’s call for the government to reject the Zemach
Commission’s recommendations, the Energy and Water Ministry had no
comment.Nadav Shemer contributed to this report.