Cabinet passes natural gas compromise outline, after 8-month impasse


 After a nearly eight-month the Cabinet, at its weekly meeting today, 16 August, approved the revised terms of a disputed compromise outline.

Cabinet members authorized the outline with majority, with just Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay voting against the document and three ministers abstaining due to conflicts of interest: Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Construction Minister Yoav Galant and Welfare Minister Haim Katz.      outline to increase the quantity of natural gas produced at the Tamar natural gas field and to rapidly develop –  inter alia – the Leviathan, Karish and Tanin natural gas fields.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting:

“Today, the Cabinet will pass an historic decision, no less” He said, “This decision will give Israel’s citizens, will put into the state coffers, hundreds of billions of shekels. This money will benefit education, health, social welfare and other national needs.”

Netanyahu added, “Every objective test proves this outline is a significant improvement over the existing situation, ” Netanyahu said. “But one more thing must be understood – it cannot be stopped. When the right thing needs to be done, and it is so crucial to Israel’s economy and strategic situation, that thing will not be stopped. They will look for another way to delay, another excuse, another reason – and that will not work.”

Although the outline received cabinet approval, the document will still likely have to come for a vote before the Knesset.

Back in June, Economy Minister Arye Deri declined to activate his authority to invoke the article, and transfer his authority to the government – a move that requires both cabinet and Knesset affirmation.

After the transfer received cabinet approval, the Knesset vote was in the end postponed after many coalition MKs refused to take part, leaving the opposition with a majority.

“I am not impressed by populism”, said PM, “to me it is only populism, even though people could possibly believe in what they are saying, but the country needs gas. Gas resources in our region will be developed, unfortunately, either way, and we need to see to it that our resources work at full capacity.

“We need to extract the gas from the sea. This decision is an important milestone. We are overcoming the obstacles step by step.  This process will not be stopped. The gas will be extracted from the bottom of the sea and will reach Israeli citizens, Israeli industry and the Israeli economy – for the benefit of the citizens of Israel”.

Although Deri made clear that he would only consider invoking Article if the outline receives the approval of the Knesset. Despite voting in favor of the outline in the cabinet on Sunday, he once again stressed his refusal to activate the clause.

“Minister Deri already voted in favor of the outline in the cabinet two months ago, and now the outline was improved, and therefore, he voted in favor, ” a spokesman for the economy minister said on Sunday. “The minister noted that this is the lesser of the evils that the inter-ministerial team submitted after five years of total inaction. Regarding the implementation of Article 52: Minister Deri announced two months ago that he does not intend to invoke Article 52 for the first time since its establishment and has nothing to add beyond this.”


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