Analysis: The gas deal – it ain’t over till it’s over

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz were all smiles at Thursday’s ceremony to kick off the country’s natural gas framework, the celebrations that ensued across the sector may still be slightly premature.

As quickly as Netanyahu placed his signature on Article 52 – the legal clause required to activate the gas deal – opposition leader Isaac Herzog reiterated the Zionist Union’s intentions to bring the matter to the High Court of Justice and put an end to what he described as a “crooked process” that ignored the rights of the Israeli public. Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On followed suit on behalf of her party, and an environmental NGO submitted its own petition a day earlier.

The petitions are scheduled for a collective discussion in the High Court on February 3, according to media reports.

Netanyahu, in his role of economy minister, needed to invoke Article 52 of the 1988 Restrictive Trade Practices Law in order to bypass the objections of the antitrust commissioner to the country’s natural gas deal.

Although it is within an economy minister’s rights to activate the clause by citing interests of national security or foreign relations, never before has a minister chosen to do so. Continue reading…

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