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Israelis Protest Proposal to Export Natural Gas

Israelis protest a government proposal to export 40 percent of the country’s newly discovered natural gas reserves.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 6/23/2013, 10:57 AM

Protesters against gas export plans
Protesters against gas export plans
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Israelis protested a government proposal to export 40 percent of the country’s newly discovered natural gas reserves in demonstrations on Saturday night.

At least four people were arrested in the protests held on Jerusalem’s main streets.

Several hundred protesters gathered to express their outrage over a proposal to export future natural gas findings, although the idea has not yet been approved by lawmakers.

The decision to export 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas reserves over a 25 year period was announced last Wednesday by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom and Finance Minister Yair Lapid.

Netanyahu said, “Instead of the gas staying in the ground, or under the sea in our case, we want to begin to produce gas and to fill the state’s coffers with billions of shekels that will allow us to ease the economic burden on the public, and of course to see to our important national needs.”

The projected worth of the export is estimated at some $60 billion.

Although the bill is due to be voted on by the Cabinet on Sunday morning, Labor MK Eitan Cabel announced Saturday he had recruited 40 MKs to pressure the government into a plenum discussion on the issue.

Cabel wrote in a statement on his Facebook page the move would “force the prime minister to answer to the Israeli people."

"The government intends to approve the export of a reckless amount of gas without even checking the short or long-term demands of the Israeli market,” he wrote.

“In too many instances, we’ve discovered the government acted in ways that did not put the public interest as a priority...”