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June 29, 2016 / 23 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Steinitz’

High Court Suspends Natural Gas Deal, Harming Israel’s Relations with Energy Firms

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday accepted some of the petitions against the Netanyahu government’s natural gas outline which included development and exploitation of the country’s newly discovered off-shore deposits by Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group.

In a four to one vote, the justices specifically ruled against the “stability clause,” which blocks any government regulatory changes to the off-shore gas outline for the next ten years – something that Netanyahu had promised the energy companies, in order to guarantee them stability in return for their massive investments.

This clause is considered legally problematic as it obligates future governments and Knessets, without actually having been passed via legislation.

The court ruling means the entire signed deal is suspended until the Knesset has a chance to review and amend the law. The court gave the Netanyahu government one year to fix the clause, or the deal would die.

Out of all the petitions that had been submitted to the high court after the law had been approved, the court embraced most decidedly the appeal from three good government groups — Movement for Quality Government, Association for Environmental Defense, and Israel Energy Forum — who also argued against the validity of the clause 52 maneuver, which was used by Netanyahu in an elaborate process that involved firing the state regulator, handing a government minister the Interior portfolio from which he had been removed in disgrace over embezzlement, and the Prime Minister’s claiming for himself the Economy portfolio.

Clause 52 permits the economy minister to bypass the objections of the state regulator and create a de facto monopoly, for security reasons.

Many observers had been placing small bets on whether or not the Prime Minister’s complicated political circus act would land him in front of a Supreme court veto. Surprisingly, it didn’t. In the end, the court did not challenge Netanyahu’s masterful maneuvers, but by striking down the stability clause, it may still kill the deal.

The good government groups argued the PM lacked the authority to approve the gas outline; pointed to supposed deficiencies in the approval process; claimed the absence of a relevant factual basis to establish the outline; decried an assault on the rule of law; cited violation of the principle of distributive justice; claimed injury to the intergenerational justice; accused the PM of violating the public trust; said the law had a lack of proportionality; and declared it was an extremely unreasonable legislation. The only thing missing was the kitchen sink.

But the court only accepted their argument regarding the stability clause.

Still, the three judges who voted to suspend the law were adamant in their condemnation of the Netanyahu government’s lack of respect for the democratic process. Justice Esther Hayut, who is slated to become the next Chief Justice, wrote regarding the stability clause that it is the most excessive overreach by the Prime Minister, in that it ties up government’s hand for a decade against changes in regulating and taxing the natural gas exploitation.

Israel’s energy minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said that the Supreme Court made an “unfortunate decision” in blocking the government’s plan to develop the offshore natural gas fields, warning it could cause irreversible damage to Israel’s energy sector. “The decision’s negative consequences on the development of the gas market, on energy security, on the Israeli economy and on the lost revenue for the state of Israel and its citizens, could be very tough, and even irreversible,” Steinitz said in a statement.

At this point it is unclear whether Netanyahu would be able to fix the stability clause in the current political reality of the Knesset.

Two ministers, Galant (Kulanu) and Katz (Likud) have had to recuse themselves from the debate for reasons of a conflict of interests, as would, possibly, Finance Minister Kahlon. This leaves a tie of 59 to 59. A lot will depend on MK Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu opposition faction, who may not be so eager to lend a helping hand to Netanyahu. And even if the PM manages to pass an amended bill, it is to be expected that the left in the House would take it right back to the Supreme Court.

PM Netanyahu said he would find a way to overcome the damage the court’s ruling just did to Israel’s economy. But for the time being, the gas will continue to remain stuck under the sea.

David Israel

Netanyahu Starts Stacking the Deck

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

PM Netanyahu appointed Minister of Science and Technology Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) to the inner cabinet committee involved in the freeing of Palestinian Authority terrorists, in order to ensure he will have a majority if any questions or problems arise in the committee regarding freeing these terrorists, according to a report in Times of Israel.

One is immediately reminded of how Rabin and Sharon took similar actions to stack the deck, to push through legislation and decisions that didn’t have a majority.

Besides Netanyahu, also in this committee are Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch. Netanyahu is concerned that Ya’alon and Aharonovitch might block parts of the deal.

Last week, Yesh Atid leader Finance Minister Yair Lapid had PM Netanyahu kick out Minister Yuval Steinitz from an inner cabinet meeting he was invited too, when Steinitz began to raise security related issues.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Biannual Budget Cancelled

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Finance Minister Yair Lapid announced he has canceled the controversial biannual budget concept, and the change will be implemented once this current biannual budget gets passed in the coming month.

The idea of working with a two-year budget was introduced in the previous government as a way of providing coalition stability.

In previous governments, negotiating and passing the annual budget would strain the coalition at its seams, as differing interests would often nearly rip the coalition apart. In order to avoid the risk of dissolution of the coalition, Netanyahu’s government decided to reduce the number of times the budget would need to be renegotiated.

Lapid claims that the government’s overdraft is a result of the discrepancies that resulted from the government’s expectations not meeting up to fiscal reality, and the inability to fix those errors within the fiscal year because of the 2 year plan.

The country will go back to the annual budget starting in 2015.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Microsoft, Israel To Sign Strategic Partnership

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Just ten days after the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer arrived in Jerusalem to discuss a memorandum of understanding between his company and Israel’s Finance Ministry to form a strategic partnership to develop and promote technology.

Steinitz and Ballmer heaped praise on each other’s endeavors during the Monday meeting.  Ballmer was set to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu later in the day.

In September, Microsoft completed its Israeli innovation center in Ra’anana, one of its 31 centers worldwide.

Malkah Fleisher

Netanyahu Releases 250 Million Shekel Advance to PA

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

After consulting with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu released on Tuesday a 250 million shekel advance to the Palestinian Authority, due to concerns that public Arab protests against the PA may lead to anarchy in Judea and Samaria.

The money will be used to shore PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s government, and will be funneled into the various departments by PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Reports indicate that the PA is still in arrears of payment to the Israel Electric Company by 700 million shekels.

The majority of aid to the Palestinian Authority comes from the United States and European Union. Only 22 percent of the PA’s funding came from Arab donors in 2010.

Malkah Fleisher

Foreign Lawyers Permitted to Work in Israel

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz signed a directive on Wednesday enabling foreign lawyers to work in Israel, and enabling collaboration between Israeli and foreign law firms.

The Ministry of Finance says the measure will enable international law firms to do more business with Israelis and Israeli businesses.  Attorneys will be subject to a set of ethicaland entry regulations, and will be required to be insured by a deposit or insurance policy.

The new mandate was issued as a result of an Israel Bar Association Law Amendment, which states that the Bar Association my register foreign attorneys and firms operating in Israel if they are licensed by foreign bar associations.

Jewish Press Staff

State Comtptroller to Come Down Heavy on Steinitz, Yishai Over Carmel Fire

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Israeli State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss will recommend the dismissal or transferal of of Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Interior Minister Eli Yishai for their role in the Carmel fire that killed 42 people in December 2010, according to Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot.

His complete report will be published next week, but certain sections have been leaked.

Lindenstrauss wrote that Yishai, as minister responsible for Fire and Rescue Services, was negligent in fulfilling his duty to prepare for such a disaster. He also wrote that Steinitz is to blame for neglecting to provide the budgets required for the Fire and Rescue Services’ proper functioning.

The fire destroyed dozens of homes and over 12,000 acres of forest, in addition to the lives lost.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/state-comtptroller-to-come-down-heavy-on-steinitz-yishai-over-carmel-fire/2012/01/29/

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