Avi Gabai
Avi Gabai Marc Israel Sellem/POOL

The Knesset Finance Committee on Wednesday witnessed a surprising development in its discussion of the controversial natural gas deal that was recently approved by the government.

Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabai (Kulanu) spoke out fiercely against the deal in the discussion, saying, "it is clear to me that in the current campaign lines were crossed, and we aren't the same state that we used to be anymore."

Gabai was told not to attend the discussion and oppose the deal by State Attorney Yehuda Weinstein, who opined that as a minister in the government Gabai must toe the cabinet government's policy line that supports the current gas deal.

"Unfortunately my very participation (in the discussion) became an event," Gabai said in the Committee. "The information I hold belongs to the public and therefore I arrived."

"Even the state attorney thinks that it is my obligation to arrive but explained to me what the rules are. These are anti-democratic rules that need to be fixed, but I believe in the rule of law and I will stick to the instructions of the state attorney."

Criticizing the gas deal passed by his government, he said, "there's a ridiculous situation here in which a state that has enough natural gas uses coal that pollutes and is imported in order to generate electricity. We will use the authorities of our ministry to change that."

"In the field of gas, unlike in the field of communications that I am familiar with, because this is a young industry in Israel my feeling was that all I hear is what the gas companies are saying," said the former CEO of the Bezeq telecommunications company.

Gabai argued that Israel needs an additional gas pipeline, and made a case for his argument by bringing up an incident that occurred during his time as Bezeq CEO.

"We had optical fibers going up to Jerusalem," he recalled. "One night a pig came and ate one of them and the next day a tractor accidentally ripped the other. A state like Israel cannot allow itself to be with two pipelines. There need to be more."