Cabinet may approve natural gas roadmap Wed

Benjamin Netanyahu photo: Reuters

Netanyahu's government hopes to push the agreement through the Knesset before the summer recess begins this week.

The Cabinet is expected to deliberate Wednesday on a proposed roadmap for the development of Israel's natural gas fields, though it remains uncertain whether the ministers will be asked to vote on the approval of the arrangement.

Since the public hearing last week, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and his team have considered how to adjust the roadmap to address the concerns raised by its opponents. The work should be concluded by Wednesday and the recommendations presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Cabinet.

If it appears that the roadmap garnered the support of a majority, it will be raised to a vote at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday; it may even be brought to the Knesset floor the same day, before the chamber adjourns for its month-long summer recess.

Given the public statements made in recent weeks by Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman that they will support the government's plan, Netanyahu's coalition hopes to achieve a majority in the Knesset, leaving the final approval for the arrangement in the hands of Economy Minister Aryeh Deri.

Sources in the political establishment believe that if the Knesset approves the roadmap, Deri will agree to bypass the antitrust regulator and using section 52 sign off on the arrangement himself.

However, those close to Netanyahu worry Liberman will retract his promises after the Yisrael Beytenu leader slammed the prime minister during a particularly critical interview over the weekend. There is also a concern that Yesh Atid will decide to vote with the opposition against the roadmap.

Meanwhile, the complications in formalizing the state budget may lead to another delay of the budget's approval by the Cabinet. The Finance Ministry is considering postponing a Cabinet meeting on the topic for August 6, after it was already rescheduled to August 3 from this upcoming Thursday.

In another complication, United Torah Judaism refuses to compromise on promises it was made in the coalition deal, under which it was entitled to retroactive children's stipends from May 2015.

The haredi party even sharpened its tongue further when it became clear the Zionist Union would not enter the coalition; those close to Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman declared they would not waver from their hardened position.

The shortened timetable set by the legislation on the approval of the budget puts Netanyahu and Kahlon in a difficult corner. According to the new law approved about a month ago the state budget must be authorized in a first reading by September 2 and pass its final hurdles of a second and third reading by November 19.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 26, 2015

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

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Benjamin Netanyahu photo: Reuters
Benjamin Netanyahu photo: Reuters
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