2012-2013 The Fight to Keep the Natural Gas in Israel

“We are stopping the theft of our gas, and keeping the natural gas in Israel.” This is the central message of the fight whose peak took place in the Spring-Summer of 2012 with huge protest rallies, wide public debate, and discussions through social networks, in the Knesset and in the media.

Green Course, together with 12 environmental and social organizations and dozens of social activities, has been leading the fight in demanding from the Israeli government to stand up to pressure from the gas companies, which have been attempting to acquire rights to export the natural gas. The organizations have been asking the government to save the gas for Israel. Conclusions from the Tsemach Committee, which showed preference for the companies and project entrepreneurs over public interest and agreed to the request to export the gas that was found on the coast of Israel, was submitted in August 2012.

The natural gas is a strategic natural resource for Israel, and can lead to an economic and environmental revolution for the country, giving new life to the industry and creating hundreds of new jobs, and the benefits of keeping the gas in the country far outweigh the income to the State from exporting it. As a result we demanded from the government to think strategically and show national responsibility and not to give in to drilling company lobbyists.

Michal Shukrun, a campaigner for Green Course, and the person chosen as one of the top 100 influential women by “The Market” tells the full story: “Everything started when we learned that Israel had found natural gas in the sea, gas that could reduce air pollution, lower the cost of living, give energy independence and security to Israel for at least the next 50 years, and add dozens of jobs. We discovered that instead of keeping the gas in Israel for use by the local population, the country planned on allowing Itzhak Tsuva to export the natural gas and this without even a public discussion in the Knesset regarding the largest financial decision in the country to date, a decision worth 900 billion shekels.

We began with small scale protests, of 4 people at intersections, and across from Tsuva’s home; we informed the public that we were being robbed, and within a few months over 700 people joined dozens of rallies we held in front of ministers’ homes, across from the prime minister’s house and in front of Tsuva’s house. Thanks to the broad public struggle, we succeeded in reducing the amount of gas they could export by at least 15%, meaning we saved approximately 150 billion shekels for our market. We were called the most influential group of the year, first place in questioning the Capital Rule.”