A photo chronicle of the past few years of protest against the Israeli government’s handling of newly discovered offshore natural gas reserves. Social activists, and economists, believe that Israeli citizens — and the state — are getting an unfair deal from the private companies who own the drilling rights.
Photos by Activestills.org
Text by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man
For the past few years a dedicated group of Israeli social activists have been protesting what they, some economists and even a number of members of Knesset have termed “the great gas robbery.”
The protests came on the tail end of a wider social protest movement, the lasting and central message of which focused on anger toward the concentration of wealth among a small number of tycoons with close ties to the government and politicians.
Nobody ever really thought that one of the largest gas discoveries in recent history would benefit Israel. Since the country’s inception, Israelis have been mocking themselves for establishing a Jewish state on the one piece of the Middle East with no oil.
Then Leviathan happened. When the discovery of the Tamar and Leviathan offshore natural gas fields was made, countries throughout the neighborhood — Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Palestine — all started jockeying for a piece of the pie. Israelis did to.
When Israel granted the licenses to drill for gas, because nobody believed that there was any gas, the contracts were very favorable for the drilling companies — less so for the country. Ever since the discoveries were made, Israelis have been demanding that the flow of gas benefit, first and foremost, Israelis.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, wanted to overrule the anti-trust commission. The only problem? He doesn’t have the authority to do so. The only government official endowed with the authority to over-ruled the anti-trust commissioner is Economy Minister Moshe Kahlon, who along with two other ministers, has recused himself from the entire affair due to personal ties with one of the small group of tycoons who control the Israeli side of the gas resources.
Netanyahu is being blackmailed by the energy companies who are threatening to indefinitely delay the flow of gas with litigation if the current arrangement is changed in a way that harms their interests. So the prime minister did what any good...Read More