Minister of the Economy and Shas Party chairman Aryeh Deri today said that he would not allow the Israel Antitrust Authority director general to be bypassed in order to approve the natural gas plan. The process will be further delayed as a result.
Deri told reporters that he was inclined not to bypass the director general, even if the Knesset approves the gas plan. Deri said that he preferred to wait for the new director general, whose appointment is expected within a few weeks. This will delay approval of the agreement by at least a few months, and it is not at all clear now whether it will be necessary to seek Knesset approval.
The cabinet approved the natural gas plan by a majority two weeks ago, despite opposition from Minister of Environmental Protection Avi Gabbay. "The cabinet approved the plan for increasing the quantity of natural gas produced from the Tamar gas reservoir and for rapid development of the Leviathan, Karish, Tanin, and other gas reservoirs," the government communique read.
Deri voted for the agreement, but has already announced that he will not exercise his authority under Section 52 of the Restrictive Trade Practices Law authorizing him to force approval of the agreement. Most opposition MKs, other than Yisrael Beitenu, have already announced that they will oppose the agreement, and three coalition MKs (Ministers Kahlon, Gallant, and Katz) have recused themselves from voting because of conflicts of interest. It is therefore by no means sure that the Knesset will approve the plan, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already postponed the Knesset vote once for this reason.
Deri: We won't prevent Netanyahu from appointing another Likud minister
Deri today added that he and Minister of Finance and Kulanu Party chairman MK Moshe Kahlon would allow Netanyahu to appoint another Likud minister in place of Minister of Science, Technology, and Space MK Danny Danon, who is slated for appointment as Israeli ambassador to the UN, in addition to the expected appointment of Deputy Minister of Health Yakov Litzman as Minister of Health. Deri and Kahlon are therefore rescinding the veto on the appointment of additional ministers imposed when the cabinet was formed.
Commenting on the possibility that the cabinet could be expanded, Deri said that in his opinion, there was little chance that Liberman would join the government, and that he had been very surprised when he chose to leave his party, Yisrael Beitenu, out of the new Netanyahu cabinet. According to Deri, he was very sorry that he had not shaken hands with the Zionist Union on the formation of a National Unity government immediately after the elections, and that this possibility was not much more difficult to attain.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 26, 2015
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