World Bulletin / News Desk
Israel's top court on Sunday struck down a landmark deal regulating exploitation of Mediterranean gas reserves, in a major defeat for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who called the ruling "mystifying".
A panel of Supreme Court justices said in their ruling that a clause in the plan that prevented it from being changed for a decade was unacceptable.
"We have decided to cancel the gas deal because of the stability clause" that would have barred future governments from altering the deal, they said.
The court however suspended the ruling for a year to enable the parliament to amend the agreement.
Critics of the deal between the Israeli government and a consortium, including US firm Noble Energy, praised the ruling while Netanyahu said it threatened the development of Israel's gas reserves.
Israel's development of its Mediterranean reserves hold serious implications for the country's efforts toward energy independence.
It could also have an impact on regional diplomacy since Israel is expected to export some of its gas.
Netanyahu, who pushed forward the deal and even appeared at the court to defend it, used an obscure clause to override the anti-trust authorities.
That allowed it to move forward with the approval of the economy minister -- a portfolio he holds after the previous one resigned over the gas deal.
The court ruling was praised by members of the opposition parties, some of whom were part of the petition against the deal.
Opposition leader and Labour head Isaac Herzog called the court's decision "correct and courageous".
"The government can't bind its hands and judgement," he said on Twitter of the so-called stability clause.
Netanyahu disagreed, saying the decision posed a "severe threat to the development of Israel's gas reserves."
"Israel is perceived as a country with exaggerated legal intervention, in which it is hard to do business," he said in a statement.
"Nobody has reason to celebrate the fact the gas might remain in the depth of the sea, and hundreds of billions of shekels won't reach Israeli citizens," he said.
"We'll find other ways to overcome the severe damage to Israel's economy following this mystifying ruling."
Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Mart 2016, 08:58