After months of wrangling, the Israeli government may have overcome the legal obstacles to a natural gas deal acceptable to the energy companies, but now it will have to contend with an intensified popular protest.
On Motzoei Shabbos, thousands of Israelis took to the streets in Yerushalayim, Tel Aviv, and Haifa to demand cancellation of the deal struck with Delek Group and the U.S.-owned Noble Energy.
The demonstrations came two days after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared that in his capacity as acting Minister of the Economy (following Aryeh Deri’s resignation), he will sign the order to override the opposition of the Antitrust Commission.
“Once in a generation, and perhaps once in the life of a nation it can happen that it finds a treasure that is able to change its life from one extreme to the other,” said Mor Gilboa, head of the student organization Green Course.
“Like winning the lottery, the gas discovered in the Mediterranean could change our lives. Thousands have taken to the streets this evening throughout Israel because the State of Israel, without a shred of shame or embarrassment, is robbing its citizens of the greatest economic treasure ever found here.”
The demonstrators said they would contest the gas agreement in the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, which Netanyahu is required by law to consult before issuing the order, and in the courts.
Some violent scuffles were reported between demonstrators and police in the Tel Aviv demonstration. Eight demonstrators were arrested, according to Ynet.