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Israel high court strikes down natural gas proliferation deal

[JURIST] The Israel High Court of Justice [official website] on Sunday decided to strike down a deal [press release] that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made last December to initiate development of an offshore natural gas field. The natural gas field at issue is titled Leviathan, and the development would have substantially increased Israel's ability to become a large exporter of natural gas within the world. Prime Minister Netanyahu [official website] stated in regards to the decision by the high court, "[t]he High Court of Justice decision severely threatens the development of the gas reserves of the State of Israel." The Israeli High Court denied the deal claiming that government officials didn't have the power to accept a long term deal which their successors will inherit in the future. In its decision, the court gave the government one year to find an alternative solution to the long term deal. Government officials believe the decision is improper and it hinders Israel's economy.

The environmental impact of natural gas production particularly hydraulic fracturing, or fracking [JURIST backgrounder], has been controversial around the world. In September a Dutch court ruled [JURIST report] that the Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil joint venture must pay homeowners for property damage caused by gas drilling related earthquakes. In June New York implemented a ban [JURIST report] on the practice. In March the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill [JURIST report] to place a three-year moratorium on fracking in the state. Also in March US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced [JURIST report] the publication of a rule regulating fracking on federal land. In January Scotland announced [JURIST report] a moratorium on the granting of permits for unconventional oil and gas extraction, including fracking amid environmental and health concerns.

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