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Israeli parliament members slam exporting natural gas


19:52, June 24, 2013

JERUSALEM, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Members of Israel's Knesset ( parliament) have appealed to the Supreme Court against a decision by the Israeli government to export 40 percent of Israel's newfound gas reservoir, saying such a move should be discussed in the Knesset.

The appeal was made by chairwoman of the Israeli opposition in the Knesset Labor Chief Shelly Yachimovich and member of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin of the Likud ruling party.

"The scope of gas export is a substantial topic which would influence the country in the next several decades and have far- reaching implications to its financial and social strength," Rivlin said in a statement.

"Therefore it must be seriously discussed by the Knesset," he added.

The petition echoes wider sentiment among the Israeli public. Hundreds of social activists protested during the weekend and during a cabinet meeting on Sunday, claiming the government "is trying to pass our natural gas to the hand of a small number of wealthy individuals and people of interest."

Moreover, they were irked by the fact that the decision was made without any Knesset (parliament) debate and without the knowledge of the citizens, terming it as "underhanded."

The Israeli cabinet approved on Sunday a decision to export 40 percent (about 360 billion cubic meters) of Israel's natural gas.

According to the government's projections, the sum of money from export would bring to the state's coffers about 60 billion U. S. dollars in the coming 20 years.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the cabinet meeting that Israel needs to "move quickly" on the gas export.

"We certainly understand that investors can lose hope. They can think that we have succumbed to populist pressures or endless bureaucracy," Netanyahu said. The investors are led by the U.S. company Noble Energy.

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