By David Bryan
25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream.27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.
28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.
33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”
Genesis 41: 25-36 NIV
Incidentally for a nation to move forward, it will most certainly have to look inward, in order to accomplish what is right for its people and the state. This is exactly the essence of what transpired after Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. National interest took precedence over all other interest.
‘Joseph gave the king a survival plan for the next 14 years . The only way to prevent starvation was through careful planning; without a famine plan, Egypt would have turned from prosperity to ruin. Many find detailed planning boring and unnecessary. But planning is a responsibility not an option. Joseph was able to save a nation by translating God’s plan for Eygpt into practical actions’ based on proper implementation.
Joseph had to build an infrastructure to house the grain -establish a complete ‘new’ system unknown to any other nation from the bottom up- to distribute and sell 7 years of abundance for the duration of 7 years of severe famine for not only Egypt but also “all the countries [which] came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph”.
The natural gas industry in Israel, akin to the ‘grain’ industry of Joseph’s era cannot be discounted and treated in a nonchalant manner. It must be accorded the highest priority for a total comprehensive overhaul of its laws or the implementation thereof of rules and regulations to govern this important sector of the Israeli economy.
Prime Minister Netanyahu ‘s stance to treat the gas sector as one of national security therefore, is not mis-guided, due to the extenuating circumstances, in which there was a halt in the production of the natural gas between the gas companies.
However, it is for this reason, that if this is the high road in which, the basis that the energy sector is modeled and treated as – then there can be no better example in the model of Israeli security forces, being one of the best in the world.
Forces, where discipline, a properly regulated IDF, central command centres, rules and regulations governing the establishment and the interoperability of the said army, navy and air force . Thus, the bar is set high by Prime Minister Netanyahu, as such, the standard for the gas industry must be, without fail, exemplary.
Israel cannot forfeit the family silver for any “bowl of porridge” under any agreement, nor implement piece-meal regulations that would deny “securing the country’s energy independence and promoting natural gas as “a source of tax and royalties revenue”.
That said, one must recognize that the current gas companies Delek Group and Noble are not the “enemies”. They cannot be blamed for the unregulated system in which there are operating.
It would be an affront to the principles of natural justice and the rule of law to arbitrarily “mandate the immediate and urgent cancellation of the gas outline.” This solves nothing.
As long as there is consensus, the proposed interim solution between government and the companies should proceed and be honored with the (a) selling of assets within six years (b) Noble Energy basin operator-dilute share ownership from 36% share to 25% and (c) sell their holdings in Karish and Tanish.
This would allow the industry to jump-start the production of the gas industry, but ‘running’ parallel to this should be the undertaking by the government within the shortest possible time to adequately address the deficiencies of the sector as listed below and implement the core recommendations of the report of Joseph Shapira “Development of Natural Gas Sector” in Israel.
This report is indeed timely and ‘praised by the Likud party’ and acknowledged by the gas companies. There is no point in re-inventing the wheel; and seeking to establish committee upon committee when there is already a meeting of minds for “one outline for one people”.
It should be out of necessity and that of competitiveness, the Israeli government move with alacrity to appropriately address, including but not limited to the following as a priority :-
- ” absence of central natural gas storage spot;
- no proper system for storing gas, which puts undue pressure on the State to extract it faster;
- failure to set guidelines for pricing guidelines, natural gas on the market including deciding the extent and method of oversight there will be on pricing;
- gas must be competitive-as long as there is a monopoly in the area of supplying natural gas.
- show pace of actions;
- policy shortcomings;
- incomplete regulations;
- lack of effective action;
- absence of a clear policy;
- inefficient system of distribution of offshore licences and in development of small gas fields;
- delays in operation of a gas storage reservoir;
- inadequate environmental regulations for the gas industry;
- lack of policy concerning taxation of gas exports, and price controls;
- delay in issuing regulation in gas royalties;
- lack of coordination of different arms of the natural gas policy leading to measured delays and mis-understanding in states exploration of natural gas reservoir i.e uncoordinated delays, years of delays prior to decisions, frequent changes in those said decisions and subsequent uncertainty generated
- lack of competition
- threat of
- one natural gas supplier which hold a monopoly
- one drilling company for the Tamar reservoir
- one pipeline for distribution of gas of limited capacity
The ideal solution to the deficiencies and assist in jettisoning the legislation “would be to concentrate authority over gas within a central regulator governed by the Energy Minister”. This may help boost confidence in the building of any cross-border trade relationships for instance in the possibility of Cyprus and Israel landing a pipeline to Egypt.
The only drawback is that, Israel should from hereon in, ensure that such projects and those in Israel that rely solely on one company are now fully redundant; given the threat of the volatile security situation in the Middle-East.
There is no doubt the natural gas industry has the unique potential for enormous financial benefits and could be the game changer for the Israeli economy, if it is properly regulated. It can transform the Israeli economy, but there must be an open market philosophy buoyed by competitiveness, transparency and accountability-it cannot be a closed shop for the elite.
The legal framework has to be build out, where the rules and regulations are drafted and passed in the Knesset, allowing for the opening of even auctions or the establishment of a Sovereign Wealth Fund as done in Norway for the future development of Israel.
The resources of Israel belong to the people of Israel and the State. Government has a fiduciary duty to ensure good governance and that a fair market value price is paid for the natural gas resources. Nothing less than this would be acceptable for Israelis- after all it is their security that is the number one goal.
ISRAELI- PALESTINE CONFLICT
I believe, the time has come, and concur that Israel should engage in constructive dialogue with the Palestine Authority in Brussels together with the European Union. Both parties should use this opportunity “to lay out their respective positions” on the way forward in the current impasse.
It is imperative that each party “listen” to what the other is saying and then “talk”; for lasting peace can only come from genuine conversation.