World briefs


Israeli Cabinet OKs exporting 40 percent of natural gas

Israel’s Cabinet approved a decision to export about 40 percent of its recently discovered reserves of natural gas while keeping a 25-year supply for the country’s consumption.

The Cabinet on Sunday agreed to retain 540 billion cubic meters for Israeli consumption, which should last for about 25 years. Revenue from the exported gas is expected to be about $60 billion.

“We will lower the cost of living in the electricity sector via the gas that will flow into the Israeli economy, and we will invest in the public welfare thanks to the profits that will go into the state coffers from gas exports,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following the vote, which had three dissenters among the 22 Cabinet members.

“Any delay in implementing this decision will endanger the state’s ability to realize the benefits of our gas resources. Gas must not stay in the ground under layers of bureaucracy and populism.”

The 40 percent export figure is 13 percent less than what was proposed by the Tzemach Commission, which was created in 2011 to come up with a national policy on the natural resource.

Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich, head of the Labor Party, and other opposition politicians have threatened to take opposition to the proposal to the Supreme Court, saying the public supported keeping the gas in the country.

Several large natural gas fields have been discovered in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel in recent years. There are projected to be about 950 billion cubic meters of gas in the natural gas fields.

Metzger suspends himself of some chief rabbi duties 

Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, has suspended himself from some of his duties following his arrest on corruption charges.

Metzger said Sunday that he will suspend himself from the presidency of the Chief Rabbinate Council and will not attend its meetings, as well as his position as a Rabbinical High Court judge.

The suspensions are for the duration of the investigation, he said in his announcement from his lawyers to Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett.

“The rabbi understands that suspending himself is the right thing to do from a public perspective,” his attorneys said while emphasizing that Metzger maintains his innocence.

Investigators from the National Fraud Squad raided Metzger’s home and offices last week as part of a bribery, fraud, money-laundering and breach-of-trust case. Police suspect Metzger pocketed donations, which Metzger denies.

Metzger is forbidden to make contact with either of the other suspects in the case — Haim Nissan Eisenshtat, who worked for years as Metzger’s driver and personal assistant, and Simcha Karkovsky, the manager of the Beit Hatavshil charity in Bnei Brak.

Following a months-long undercover investigation, officers went public on June 20, arresting the three suspects and seizing documents, computers and other materials from Metzger’s home and office.

Metzger was released to five days of house arrest after being questioned for 10 hours. His term as Ashekenazi chief rabbi ends in the coming months.

Two Palestinians executed for passing information to Israel

Two Palestinian men convicted of spying for Israel were executed by Hamas authorities in Gaza.

The men were hanged on Saturday after being found guilty of “collaboration with the Israeli occupation.”

In a statement, the Hamas Interior Ministry in Gaza said the men were executed “in accordance with our religion and Palestinian law,” according to The Jerusalem Post.

They were accused of passing information to Israel that included the location of military posts, government offices, homes and weapons factories.

Some 16 Palestinian Gazans have been executed after trial since 2007 for spying for Israel. Dozens more have been killed without trials, according to The Associated Press.

Abbas begins work to replace newly appointed P.A. PM

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the resignation of his prime minister, who quit two weeks after taking office.

Abbas on Sunday appointed Rami Hamdallah, 55, to lead an interim government after accepting his resignation. Hamdallah reportedly quit after disagreements with his two Abbas-appointed deputy prime ministers.

He tendered his resignation on June 20, but after meeting with Abbas the following day, it appeared he would withdraw the resignation, according to reports.

Hamdallah was the president of an-Najah National University in Nablus before being sworn in as prime minister on June 6. He succeeded Salam Fayyad, who resigned in mid-April but remained to lead a caretaker government until a new government was formed. — JTA News and Features

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