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Israel: Netanyahu to fast-track natural gas plan after minister resigns

 |  November 1, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will take control of the Economy Ministry to fast-track a plan to develop huge offshore natural gas deposits after a minister who had been holding up the plan stepped down.

Economy Minister Aryeh Deri, who had opposed waiving normal antitrust laws to give rapid approval to a framework deal to develop the gas fields off Israel’s Mediterranean coast, said he had offered his resignation.

His decision allows Netanyahu to take the helm of the Economy Ministry and give final approval to a framework deal he reached in August with Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group.

The outline plan leaves the partners in control of the country’s largest gas field, Leviathan, while forcing them to sell smaller, yet sizable, assets.

Deri could have deemed the agreement important enough for national security to exempt it from normal antitrust laws but refused to do so, saying it would set a dangerous precedent.

Netanyahu said he had no problem making such a ruling.

“Minister Deri informed me of his intent to resign from the Economy Ministry in order to allow for the completion of the proceedings. The ministry will revert to me and I will authorize the outline,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Full content: The Wall Street Journal

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