natural gas protest370.
(photo credit: Courtesy, Scoutti, Ori Hait )
Some 400 protesters demonstrated on Saturday night in Ramat Gan around Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom's residence over the government's intention to approve the export of natural gas from Israel, Army Radio reported.
A central website of the social protest movement j14 declared on Saturday that the "Israeli public is waking up and beginning to understand that natural gas, the natural resource that is most important to us for the coming decades is being stolen from us."
The website claimed that the public would lose 600 billion dollars if the government went ahead with its plans to export the gas money it says would include the quality of life for all citizens.
After police dispersed the crowd at Shalom's residence, protesters marched towards the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv, where Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer attended an event. Demonstrators surrounded Fischer, calling out "where is our money?" and "capital, control, crime." Police escorted Fischer to his car. No one was arrested during the demonstration.
As companies continue to explore and drill through Israel’s eastern Mediterranean waters, export allowances have become a topic of contention across the country. The 282-billion cubic meter Tamar reservoir is already flowing into Israel, and its neighboring approximately 535b. cu.m. basin Leviathan is slated to come online within the next few years. Although the Zemach Committee – headed by Energy and Water Ministry Director- General Shaul Zemach – recommended a maximum export allocation of 500b. cu.m. this fall, the government has yet to officially approve any export policy.
The Zemach Committee’s conclusions, which also called for a minimum of 450b. cu.m. of gas to be allotted for domestic use, have been under constant criticism from environmentalists across the board, who say that much more of the resource is needed at home.
Gas explorers and producers, on the other hand, contend that a stable export policy will attract additional entrepreneurs to enter the region and thereby discover more resources – bringing a benefit to Israel’s citizens as well.
Sharon Udasin contributed to this report.