The Tamar gas processing rig off the coast of Israel 370.
(photo credit: Noble Energy)
There must be a public discourse via the Knesset about natural gas exports, MK
Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu) said Thursday, announcing that he proposed a bill
to that effect.
Speaking at the Israel Democracy Institute Eli Hurvitz
Conference on Economy and Society in Eilat, Rivlin said, “The more public
discourse in the Knesset is effective, the less necessary investigations
“Every government decision affects generations, like gas
distribution. They must undergo public discourse. This is our
responsibility,” he stated.
Rivlin’s bill, which he submitted to the
Knesset earlier this week, simply adds the words “with the authorization of the
Knesset Finance Committee” to the rules stipulated by the Petroleum Law
regarding decisions on gas export allocation.
The legislation follows a
High Court decision last month to uphold a ministerial vote to export natural
gas discovered in the Mediterranean Sea. In a 5-2 vote on October 21, the High
Court of Justice rejected a petition filed by Rivlin and opposition leader
Shelly Yacimovich to overturn the government’s natural gas export policy. The
petition, whose supporters included a range of left- and right-wing MKs and
various NGOs, stressed that a decision of such financial and social magnitude
must be made with full transparency in the halls of the Knesset.
government’s natural gas policy in question was the result of a June 23 cabinet
decision determining that 540 billion cubic meters of natural gas would be kept
at home, limiting export quantities to 40 percent of the country’s estimate
reserves rather than a 53% cap that had been originally proposed.
year of discussions, the Zemach Committee – an interministerial committee led by
then-Energy and Water Ministry director-general Shaul Zemach – initially
recommended in August 2012 that the country keep only a minimum of 450 billion
cu. m. of gas at home at cap exports at 500 billion cu. m., or 53%. However,
following a wave of uproar among environmentalists demanding that more gas be
reserved for domestic use, the cabinet eventually settled on the 540 billion cu.
m. quantity this June.
This solution was insufficient in the minds of
environmentalists, as well as a group of about 60 MKs, the latter of which sent
a signed letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu demanding that a decision
of such epic proportions should occur in the Knesset. From there, Yacimovich and
Rivlin brought the issue to the High Court of Justice, which ultimately rejected
the petition.Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.