The U.S. Embassy in Israel contacted MKs from the Joint Arab List, expressing support for the gas proposal presented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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MKs from the Joint List confirmed to Haaretz that they had received phone calls and that one had received a text message. The message said the Embassy was “hopeful” that the MKs would approve the gas proposal, and that this would help Israel supply gas to Jordan and the Palestinians in the future.
Party members said they were surprised by the American intervention in this issue. The matter was also the subject of a brief discussion at the faction meeting Monday afternoon at the Knesset. Ultimately, the party voted against the proposal.
Rumors had been swirling all day about external pressure being brought to bear, possibly from Persian Gulf countries. Joint List members denied these rumors, but later confirmed the contact with American officials.
The Embassy commented: “We hope that Israel will reach an arrangement that will allow development of its natural gas resources. We are proud of the contributions that American companies are making to bring cleaner and more efficient energy resources to Israel. We believe natural gas will further strengthen Israel’s economy and energy security in the coming years. It will allow Israel to meet its own energy needs and, as Israel exports gas to its neighbors, will bring regional security benefits as well. The specifics of any arrangement are, of course, a matter for the Israeli government and people to decide, but we have always been open with our Israeli friends about the economic, security, and commercial benefits we believe are within reach as Israel develops its natural gas.”:Last week, the opensecrets website revealed that, as of 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held $500,000-$1 million worth of shares in the American company Noble Energy. This holding aroused concern given Kerry’s involvement in the Israeli gas market over the last two years – from promoting the gas export deal from the Leviathan gas issue of field to Jordan and Egypt, and his unusual involvement in the continuation of the regulatory processes in Israel.
Seven months ago, Kerry called the prime minister and expressed “concern over the regulatory uncertainty in Israel” after Professor David Gilo, head of the Antitrust Authority, decided to backtrack from the minor compromise arrangement formulated with the Delek and Noble Energy gas monopoly.
A source close to the export deal formed between Leviathan and the Jordanians also previously told TheMarker that “the one behind the agreement who pushed energetically pushed for its completion was the American Secretary of State.” The source said, “Kerry worked to promote the agreement with the aim of fortifying the moderate axis in the Middle East – the moderate Arab states and Israel. In the course of the talks he met with representatives of the delegations and encouraged them to reach an agreement. The American support was felt all along the way – to them the agreement is a strategic and stabilizing factor.”