Gas rig (archive)
Gas rig (archive) Photo: Moshe Shai / Flash 90

The Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday struck down Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s landmark natural gas policy, ruling that if the Knesset does not fix certain issues in the outline in one year’s time, it would be formally dismissed.

The Supreme Court justices said in their ruling that a clause in the plan that prevented it from being changed for a decade without a clear final vote in the Knesset was unacceptable.

"The government is not entitled to limit the discretion and judgment of the Knesset," Judge Salim Joubran stated in the ruling. "The current formulation of the provisions of stability is distasteful and it may harm Israel's international status as the state would have to go back on a promise which it gave.”

MK Shelly Yechimovich (Zionist Union) applauded the court’s decision and said, “The Supreme Court’s decision is historical and dramatic. Netanyahu’s stability clause for gas companies was from the beginning distorted and devoid of any constitutional logic, and it excluded gas companies with its immunity rules, which is unheard of in a free democratic world.”

Last month, Netanyahu made the unusual move of partaking in a Supreme Court hearing to defend his controversial gas deal framework against various petitions.

Netanyahu told the judges that the current time window is critical, and that approving the gas deal now over the objections of anti-trust groups would not only provide a benefit to Israel's economy, but also to national security and Israel's position in the Middle East, as it would enable the Jewish state to sell gas.

The prime minister went on to argue that if the state of Israel does not begin to export gas, potential clients worldwide such as Cyprus and Greece will instead buy natural gas from enemies of Israel.