WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel’s infrastructures minister is proposing a joint U.S.-Israel research venture to explore alternatives to gasoline.
Uzi Landau made his case this week to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference. He also met with top lawmakers in Congress, including Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who heads the U.S. House of Representatives Energy Committee, and Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who has championed energy efficiency cooperation with Israel, and Sens. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).
Landau said his ministry is ready to invest $10 million in such a venture, to be matched by $10 million from the U.S. government.
"A decrease in the dependence on oil is high on Israel’s strategic interests list," Landau told JTA. "It’s a national security issue."
Among the areas he said such a venture would research would be electric cars, where Israel already has made advances, clean energy and biofuels.
He also noted advances in Brazil with "flex fuel" vehicles that allow drivers to choose from different fuels at the pump and where a significant portion of drivers opt for non-fossil fuels.
Landau said such research ultimately could help alleviate poverty and force oil providers to become more competitive.
Critically for Israel, he said, a reduction in dependence on oil could stem funding for terrorism from some oil-producing countries. Landau said his pitch was "Each time you pull into the gas station, look into the mirror to see who is following you."