Knesset lobby seeks to block gas exports

A meeting of the environment-social lobby called for the decision to be made in the Knesset, not the government.

The environmental-social lobby in the Knesset has held an emergency meeting with the aim of blocking the export of natural gas. A letter was sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed by more than 60 Knesset members demanding that the decision on whether to permit the export of gas should not be made in the government but should be referred to the Knesset.

The letter, initiated by MK Dov Khenin, states, "The decision on the question of the export of gas from the reserves discovered offshore from Israel has far reaching economic, social, and environmental consequences. Such a weighty matter ought to be discussed, and ultimately decided, by the Knesset, amid a professional, comprehensive, and transparent public debate. We the undersigned, members of Knesset from various parties, call on you to take steps to bring the matter before the Knesset in a format that will allow such a debate and decision."

The emergency meeting was attended by Knesset members Moshe Gafni, Moshe Mizrahi, Reuven Rivlin, Yifat Kariv, Merav Michaeli, Stav Shafir, Dov Khenin, Nitzan Horowitz, Michal Rozin, Eitan Cabel, Micky Rosenthal, Avishay Braverman, Environment Minister Amir Peretz, Shelly Yachimovich, and Tamar Zandberg, who were joined by members of various environmental and social organizations, such as Green Course, Adam Teva V'Din Israel Union for Environmental Defense, the Israel Energy Forum, and dozens of activists.

Khenin opened the meeting by saying, "There is a clear majority in the Knesset behind the demand to bring the question of gas exports for discussion and decision by the Knesset. This is a question of huge significance. It cannot be decided behind closed doors, in proceedings that are not open to the public. In my view, a decision to allow gas exports will be a mistake in every respect. Economically, it will cause a rise in the price of gas to industry and for production of electricity in Israel. Socially, it is clear that higher prices will fall on Israel's citizens, with all the harsh consequences of that. Environmentally, the decision will hit the transition to cleaner production processes and will bring in train air pollution and health hazards. We call on the public to make its voice heard and to show here too that the era in which secret coups can be carried out in favor of tycoons is over."

Amir Peretz said that in calculating the needs of the economy, the needs of medium and heavy industry and of transport had been underestimated, and that the Ministry of the Environment was demanding that a larger quantity of gas should be retained for the benefit of the citizens of Israel.

Avishay Braverman said that the matter would shortly be discussed by the Knesset Economics Committee, and that the gas should be exploited to create an industry around gas products. "A natural monopoly has been formed in Israel on gas. Shall we commit the same sin we committed in relation to the resources of the Dead Sea? Instead of developing derivative products, Israel Chemicals sells the resources. An industry shoud be ceated around the gas."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on April 24, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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