High Court paves way for Leviathan gas
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The High Court of Justice rejected a petition against the decision by the national planning board to approve the development of the Leviathan offshore natural gas reserve, paving the way for gas to be mined from the site. The development plan includes an emergency backup storage tank for natural gas condensate at Hagit. The petition against the plan was filed against residents of the Yoknam, who are concerned about the safety and health implications of such a facility in their region. The Hagit tank is intended to collect condensate that cannot be collected at the Haifa Oil Refineries facilities, thus ensuring that natural gas production at Leviathan does not need to halt. The judges encouraged the sides to carry out a dialogue that would reassure the area residents. (Ora Coren)
Tel Aviv trade finishes Christmas with losses
The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange finished Monday’s trading session with losses as the banks index fell from a record high. Wall Street indexes were closed for the Christmas holiday. The blue-chip Tel-Aviv 35 Index dropped 0.4% to close at 1,508 points, after gaining 1.9% the day before, and the broader Tel Aviv-125 Index fell 0.4% as well. Bank shares weakened 0.7%, while biomed shares were off 0.9%. Notable shares included Bezeq Communications, up 1.2% amid a deal in the works by U.S.-Israeli businessman Naty Saidoff to control its parent company, Eurocom. The share is up 8% for the past three days. Africa Israel jumped 27% on the news that Moti Ben Moshe is buying the company and injecting 2.38 billion shekels for its bondholders. (Guy Erez and Shelly Appelberg)
Israel Securities Authority Chairman Shmuel Hauser intends to propose regulation to ban companies based on bitcoin and other digital currencies from trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, he said on Monday. He will bring the proposal to the ISA board next week, he said. If approved, it would be subject to a public hearing and then the stock exchange bylaws would need to be amended. Companies that are already listed would be suspended, he added. Hauser did not identify any companies that would be affected by his ban, but at least two firms listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) now describe digital currencies or the technology behind them as essential to their business: Blockchain Mining and Fantasy Network. Shares of Blockchain, which on Sunday changed its name from Natural Resources, have soared some 5,000 percent in the past few months since it announced it would shift its focus from mining for gold and iron to mining cryptocurrencies. Earlier this month, Hauser said bitcoin-based companies would not be included in stock exchange indexes. (Reuters)