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Netanyahu signs controversial gas deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signs a deal on Israel’s newly found gas fields in the Mediterranean, utilizing a controversial clause allowing him to bypass antitrust authorities.

“I’ve decided to approve the gas deal,” Netanyahu says at an event at the Eco-Industrial Park in Ramat Hovav. “It is essential to our security, because we do not want to have only a single power plant which [can be] shot at.”

Netanyahu’s move comes after a year of performing political cartwheels to override Knesset and public opposition to the deal, which critics claim will create a monopoly in the gas market and lead to higher prices for Israeli consumers.

Illustrative photo of a natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
Illustrative photo of a natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

“There is no chance of developing additional gas fields without the gas deal. It’s the only way,” he says.

The deal is signed despite a Monday vote in the Knesset Economics Committee rejecting Clause 52 of the Restrictive Trade Practices (antitrust) Law which allows the economy minister — currently Netanyahu — to bypass the Antitrust Authority if security or foreign policy considerations justify it. The authority had ruled that the consortium developing the Leviathan field may constitute a monopoly.

Netanyahu has said the move will pump hundreds of billions into Israeli coffers, though activists say the deal with the US-Israeli consortium is too favorable toward business interests.

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