Knesset limits secrecy covering controversial state-owned Europe Asia Pipeline Company

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

In a landmark decision, the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee waters down the secrecy conditions covering the controversial state-owned Europe Asia Pipeline Company and agrees to extend the rules for one year only, despite the Finance Ministry’s request for five years.

Local authorities and environmental groups have long claimed that the secrecy — apparently linked to a historical connection between the company and Iran prior to the Islamic Revolution — prevents them from supervising and monitoring polluting activities to protect the environment.

The committee, chaired by the Likud Party’s Yuli Edelstein, approves allowing inspectors with security clearance from relevant local authorities and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority to view confidential information for the purposes of environmental supervision. The authorities govern areas in and around Eilat and Ashkelon in southern Israel where the EAPC maintains its oil ports.

The company maintains pipelines linking Eilat, on the Red Sea coast, to Ashkelon, on the Mediterranean shore, for the transportation of oil between Europe, the Gulf and the Far East.

Oil leaks have caused some of Israel’s worst environmental disasters over the years.

Environmental campaigners have long warned of the dangers an oil spill could unleash on Eilat’s climate-resilient coral reefs. These are not only important as the world continues to warm, but underpin much of the tourism industries in Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

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