JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet approved a decision to export about 40 percent of its recently discovered reserves of natural gas while keeping a 25-year supply for the country’s consumption.
The Cabinet on Sunday agreed to retain 540 billion cubic meters for Israeli consumption, which should last for about 25 years. Revenue from the exported gas is expected to be about $60 billion.
“We will lower the cost of living in the electricity sector via the gas that will flow into the Israeli economy, and we will invest in the public welfare thanks to the profits that will go into the state coffers from gas exports,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following the vote, which had three dissenters among the 22 Cabinet members.
“Any delay in implementing this decision will endanger the state’s ability to realize the benefits of our gas resources. Gas must not stay in the ground under layers of bureaucracy and populism.”
The 40 percent export figure is 13 percent less than what was proposed by the Tzemach Commission, which was created in 2011 to come up with a national policy on the natural resource.
Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich, head of the Labor Party, and other opposition politicians have threatened to take opposition to the proposal to the Supreme Court, saying the public supported keeping the gas in the country.
Several large natural gas fields have been discovered in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel in recent years. There are projected to be about 950 billion cubic meters of gas in the natural gas fields.