Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy and Industry Benjamin Netanyahu today signed the natural gas development agreement in the Neot Hovav Eco Industrial Park in the Negev, exactly one year after former Antitrust Authority director general Prof. David Gilo revoked an agreement he had reached with Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) and Noble Energy. Netanyahu signed the gas agreement after the process of consultation with the Knesset Economics Affairs Committee concerning the invoking of Section 52 of the Restrictive Trade Practices Law was officially completed, even though the committee recommended that the section not be used. The agreement becomes effective today, subject to a High Court of Justice hearing in February.
"I want to particularly thank two people, without whom I could not have pushed this through. One is my good friend Yuval Steinitz, who I appointed Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources for this purpose, and the other is Prime Minister's Office director general Eli Groner. They worked together as a troubleshooting team to overcome the obstacles," Netanyahu said at the beginning of his remarks. "I also want to thank the lawyers, who provided real assistance in this case on behalf of a tri-faceted vision. My first vision is of an Israel with 10 million people earning $50,000 per capita a year - $500 billion in GDP. That will safeguard our future.
"The second vision is materializing here right before our eyes - 12 years from now, Beer Sheva will be a city of 500,000 people, and this development will transform the Negev. This requires boosting the private sector - that is what will make Israel prosper. The third vision is to narrow the gaps and involve all Israelis in education, welfare, and health - to give them a good life in this developing country. For these three visions, we need gas. This gas was awarded to us as a gift from God, who gave us enormous gas reserves that make us an important power in the international theater."
Responding to the critics of the gas plan, Netanyahu said, "The discussion has become demagogic. I decided to approve the gas plan, because we must not be dependent on a single gas platform, a single pipeline… We had to overcome all this demagogy."
Netanyahu said that European countries were interested in gas in Israel, without specifying the countries, adding, "This gas is environmentally clean, will lower the cost of living, and give us billions of shekels for our needs. I am finishing this speech and giving gas to Israel and its people."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 17, 2015
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