Gas companies have hired several lobbyists with close ties to ministers and Knesset members in a bid to ramp up pressure on the government to reject a plan to charge them higher royalties for gas finds. The lobbyists have connections to officials including Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Shortly before the Sheshinski committee issued its final recommendations for changing the government's fiscal policy on natural gas finds, Delek Group controlling shareholder Yitzhak Tshuva met with Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer.
Tshuva, who came with his wife Haya, met with Ben-Eliezer to convince him to oppose the committee's recommendations.
The gas partnership's spokesman declined to respond, while Ben-Eliezer's spokesman said that the minister meets with anyone who requests a meeting.
Knesset sources say the lawmakers will be subject to increasing pressure over the next few months, when the committee's recommendations are discussed by the government and the Knesset.
The gas companies have hired a total of seven lobbying firms, including top lobbyists with close ties to government members. Lobbyist Israel Yehoshua was hired by Delek Drilling and is close to Netanyahu, Steinitz and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Steinitz supports raising government royalties on profits from natural gas, while Lieberman opposes measures and Netanyahu has yet to state his position.
Yehoshua also employs Knesset lobbyist Leah Magen, who formerly served as an adviser to Minister Limor Livnat.
In addition, Tshuva has hired ex-MK Ronen Tzur to do public relations for the campaign against raising royalties. Ronen Moshe, who used to be an advisor to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, was hired as a media advisor by the union of gas and oil exploration companies.
Delek Energy, Delek Infrastructures, Ratio Oil Exploration and Givot Olam Oil Exploration all have lobbyists to argue against raising royalties; some smaller investors also have their own lobbyist, Yehuda Schweitzer.
Opposing them is a lobbying firm employed by Egyptian gas exporter EMG. ()
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