29 August 12 17:14–The submission of Tzemach Committee’s final report to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today does end not the government’s infighting over natural gas exports. On the contrary, what began as pure professional disagreements has quickly turned into an ugly political ruckus between Minister of Energy and Water Uzi Landau and Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan.
The personal struggle between Landau and Erdan creates a dilemma for Netanyahu. On one hand is his natural tendency and worldview, which supports gas exports, as Landau demands. On the other hand is his political commitment to Erdan and fears of taking unpopular positions.
The dispute over gas exports began as a disagreement between Tzemach Committee members. On one side was the representative of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and some officials from the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources; on the other side were the representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Bank of Israel, the National Economics Council, and the Antitrust Authority. The material question was whether to permit gas exports, thereby taking a risk that Israel will not have enough gas for its own consumption in a few years; or to postpone gas exports, and risk that developers will flee and that the gas will remain in the ground.
Experts who oppose gas exports now say that there is no reason for haste, and point to the question marks that still hang over the exact amount of natural gas that Israel has and the ability to produce it. “A hasty decision now means that the target has been marked in advance,” says one expert…Read More>>