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.
“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.