Knesset vote approves framework for natural gas deal

Knesset votes 59-51; Economy Minister and antitrust commission oppose; Licensing agreement approved, but deal not legally binding

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The Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) approved the framework for the proposed natural gas deal with 59 votes in favor and 51 in opposition. The vote approves the negotiated licensing agreement, however is not legally binding.

The deal, which was created in August with ongoing negotiations since then, cannot be implemented due to opposition from the antitrust commission as well as Economy Minister Arye Deri’s refusal to use his authority to approve the deal (Article 52), his decision to do as the commission is waiting for a new appointment of a new chief.

Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the vote stating, “This is a big day for the State of Israel. This will bring tens of billions of dollars to education, welfare and health and tens of billions of dollars in new investments in Israel.” On the issues of the proposal transfer to cabinet, Netanyahu stated, “We improved the outline, we passed it in the Knesset, and we passed it today with an overwhelming majority in the Knesset. There is another obstacle, but when I want to achieve something, I get it.”

If the deal is to pass, natural gas prices will be regulated over a six-year period in which holdings in all three gas fields, Tamar, Karish and Tanin, would be sold with finalizing of a licensing agreement between the state and the energy consortium.