MKs Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) and Reuven Rivlin (Likud) said they would file a petition with the High Court Monday against the government's plan to export gas. The petition will demand that the court put a hold on any plans to export gas until the issue is discussed by the Knesset. The government approved a plan Sunday that would allow for the export of 40% of Israel's proven gas reserves.
During a cabinet discussion on the export plan, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said that the decision to export gas was “a great day for Israel. This decision is the right one, and every citizen will benefit from it personally.” The plan, he said, would ensure that Israel had enough gas for its own needs for decades, while enriching the state by $60 billion over the next 25 years.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that he understood the concerns of protesters who demand that Israel export less gas, but added that he believed that the government had “found the right balance in the matter of exports.” The companies that did the exploring – Noble Energy, Delek Drilling, and others - “performed a great service for Israel and we must recognize their contributions” by allowing them to earn money from their work, he said.
Yachimovich and Rivlin disagreed, and demanded that the decision on what to do with the gas be transferred to the Knesset. “Any decision that influences the issue of the gas needs to go before the Knesset,” Rivlin said. “This is a matter that will influence the fate of future generations and will be a major factor in the state's economic stability in the coming years. It is worthy for the Knesset to consider this matter in-depth,” he said.
On Saturday night, hundreds of Israelis protested the government proposal to export 40 percent of the country’s newly discovered natural gas reserves. At least four people were arrested in the protests held on Jerusalem’s main streets.