By TIA GOLDENBERG Associated Press
TEL AVIV – Israel (AP) Israel’s Environment minister said Thursday that a clandestine deal that would have made scuba divers’ paradise a gateway for Emirati oil headed towards Western markets had been effectively blocked.
Tamar Zandberg said that, despite a Justice Ministry opinion stating that her office had the authority and authority to limit the activities by the Israeli government-owned corporation signing onto the deal that she was not able to realize the agreement.
The deal exists on paper, but it is impossible to implement,” she stated. They won’t be able to bring in more tanksers than the current permit permits. The agreement cannot be realized.
The secret deal would have greatly increased the number oil tankers arriving in Eilat, Israel’s resort city. It was reached last January between the Europe-Asia Pipeline Company of Israel and MED-RED Land Bridge, a joint Israeli/Emirati venture. This agreement followed the historic diplomatic ties that were established between Israel and United Arab Emirates.
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Senior officials of the former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus government, including his former energy and foreign ministers, claimed they didn’t know anything about the deal until it became public last year after the accords had been signed at the White House.
Initially hailed by Israel as a move that would cement diplomatic ties and further Israels oil ambitions, the new Israeli government has ordered a review. After a protest from environmental groups, which warned that increased oil tanker traffic could threaten the Gulf of Eilats coral Reefs, the Israeli government ordered a review. Investors were upset and it could have a diplomatic spat between Israel’s Gulf allies.
The Environmental Protection Ministry stopped the company’s expansion plans, limiting the number of oil tankers allowed into Gulf of Eilat, and effectively preventing the deal.
Israeli environmental groups had asked the Supreme Court to cancel the agreement. They also cited the corporation’s questionable safety record as well as the risk posed from parking supertankers alongside Eilats fragile Coral Ecosystems. Following the Justice Ministry’s decision in favor of the Environmental Protection Ministry, the groups retracted their lawsuit earlier this month.
The EAPC pipeline company was established in 1960 to transport Iranian oil to Israel. This was during friendly relations between the two countries. Its operations are kept secret, ostensibly because of security concerns.
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