US Embassy silent on report it pressured MKs to vote for gas deal

Israeli media were flooded with reports on Tuesday that Ambassador Dan Shapiro pressured Israeli-Arab lawmakers from the Joint List to vote for the deal in the Knesset.

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July 1, 2015 02:20
1 minute read.
Israel's natural gas

Israel's natural gas. (photo credit: MINISTRY OF NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURES)

 
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The resolution of the contentious gas deal will reap Israel economic, security, and commercial benefits, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said in a statement released by the US Embassy on Tuesday.

The statement was released a day after an Israel Radio report that claimed Shapiro called Joint List MKs to lobby them to support a deal that would benefit American company Noble Energy.

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“We hope that Israel will reach an arrangement that will allow development of its natural gas resources. We are proud of the contributions that American companies are making to bring cleaner and more efficient energy resources to Israel," Shapiro's statement said.

“We believe natural gas will further strengthen Israel’s economy and energy security in the coming years. It will allow Israel to meet its own energy needs and, as Israel exports gas to its neighbors, will bring regional security benefits as well.

“The specifics of any arrangement are, of course, a matter for the Israeli government and people to decide, but we have always been open with our Israeli friends about the economic, security, and commercial benefits we believe are within reach as Israel develops its natural gas.” According to Israel Radio's Yehudit Bodek, Shapiro telephoned three Joint List MKs: chairman Ayman Odeh (Hadash), Ahmad Tibi (Ta’al) and Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash). She reported that he told the MKS that not to vote against the gas deal that would benefit the Palestinian Authority and Jordan and the connection with them.

MK Haneen Zoabi's office told The Jerusalem Post that she was not contacted by the embassy on this matter and that in any case the Joint List, an alliance of four parties including Zoabi’s Balad party, was sticking to its rejection of the current proposal for the natural gas sector. Another Joint List MK didn’t respond to an inquiry from the Post.

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