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Netanyahu Suffers Major Loss as Court Strikes Down his Gas Deal

Media Line MidEast Daily News 28-Feb-16

After spending a massive amount of political currency in order to manage the policies that will deal with the harvesting and marketing of Israel’s mammoth natural gas find, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was dealt a severe blow by the High Court of Justice when it ruled that the government’s framework deal with companies given the right to work the fields is illegal. After the primary rights holders, Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group, complained bitterly that the rules initially agreed-to were breached when Israel’s anti-trust commissioner demanded that their agreement be re-worked after billions of dollars had already been spent in exploration and infrastructure, a ruling that ultimately caused the commissioner to resign, the Netanyahu government revised the agreement with a proviso that promised no alterations to the deal would be made for a period of ten years – a provision the court said is illegal. An angry Netanyahu blasted the court, saying the ruling will cause “severe damage” to the economy. The companies directly affected, Noble and Delek, were conciliatory, pointing out that the deal survived legal scrutiny with the sole exception of the so-called “stability clause,” and that they are able to work around the new restrictions.