Prof. Eytan Sheshinski
Prof. Eytan Sheshinski Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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The chairman of the committee studying the division of profits on natural gas in Israel says he and his family have received death threats.

The chairman, Prof. Eytan Sheshinski, also said his phone was being tapped. He filed a police report on the threats a few weeks ago, while the committee's deliberations were still underway. The cabinet yesterday approved the committee's recommendations to award the state a larger share of profits from natural-gas strikes.

Sheshinski handed to the police threatening letters he had received at home demanding that he soften the panel's recommendations.

The police do not know who is behind the threats.

The panel recommended that the state's share in profits from natural-gas discoveries (and any future oil strikes ) climb to between 52 percent and 62 percent from the current 33 percent. The rest of the profits would go to investors.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz has said over the past few weeks that unusual incidents have accompanied the panel's work. Sheshinski and the Finance Ministry declined to comment on the matter yesterday.

The cabinet yesterday approved the committee's recommendations by a 21-5 majority, paving the way for a Knesset vote.

The five Yisrael Beiteinu ministers, the party of Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, voted against the panel's conclusions. Ministers Yossi Peled (Likud ) and Yaakov Margi (Shas ) did not vote due to possible conflicts of interest stemming from business or family relationships with investors in the gas-drilling projects.