Israel’s High Court rejects petition against natural gas exports


In the petition to the High Court, signed by MK Yacimovich & MK Rivlin, the call for a gas export policy to be determined by Knesset falls 5-2.



The High Court of Justice on Monday rejected by a tally of 5-2 a petition against the state’s unilateral decision on Israel’s natural gas export policy.

A natural gas rig west of Haifa, Israel. - Photo: Albatross Aerial Perspective/AP

The Finance Ministry expects gas production from the Tamar natural gas field to contribute 0.8% to GDP for 2013 – – Photo: Albatross Aerial Perspective/AP

The petition, signed by a number of MKs, including opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich and Reuven Rivlin (Likud Baytenu) called for gas export policy to be determined by the Knesset.

The High Court did not immediately give its arguments for rejecting the petition.

Amid a public uproar, the cabinet in June approved plans to keep 540 billion cubic meters of natural gas at home – thereby limiting export quantities to 40 percent of the country’s current reserves, rather than the original 53% cap suggested.

The petitioners argued that the new gas policy will have a massive impact on the country’s future, including “our children and grandchildren”; that it is an issue of “first impression,” meaning a major new concern that requires serious consideration; and that it is a matter on which the Knesset must pass a new law in order for anything to move forward.

In contrast, the state said that in an ideal world, it might have been more fitting for the Knesset to have weighed in, but from a purely legal perspective, there was no bar to the government deciding the new policy unilaterally.

Any delay could endanger the country’s ability to replenish its energy needs in the near future, and a bill to handle the issue had already been endlessly delayed in the Knesset, the state added.

Previously, on August 5, the court had issued an interim order freezing the government’s policy until a final decision is made.

Yacimovich greeted that order as a message to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he should act more democratically by bringing the issue to the Knesset.

Hundreds of protesters came to support her struggle and the NGOs.


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