The “Catsa Oil Line” agreement – concluded between a private Israeli company and the UAE – presents the new Israeli government with challenges that may spark a diplomatic crisis between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, after the new Minister of Environmental Protection, Tamar Zandberg, asked to cancel the agreement.
Following the request of the Israeli minister; The newspaper “Israel Hayom” – close to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – quoted high-ranking Emirati diplomatic sources as saying that “the cancellation of the agreement by the Israeli government – according to which the UAE pumps its oil to the Mediterranean and from there to Europe via the Eilat Ashkelon oil pipeline – from It would cause a crisis in relations with Israel, and there would be a danger to the stability of the Abrahamic agreements.” Read also The first in more than 15 years .. the arrival of a huge Emirati cargo ship to the Israeli port of Eilat Israel cancels participation in a defense exhibition in Abu Dhabi and an Emirati delegation in Tel Aviv to arrange the opening of the embassy Treaty or an election campaign?.. 6 questions that explain the reasons for Emirati-Israeli normalization
During his tenure, Netanyahu refrained from discussing the binding memorandum of understanding concluded in October 2020 between the Israeli company Eurasian Pipeline (EAPC) and the UAE company, MED-RED, which requires approval by the United Arab Emirates. Israeli government.
During his tenure as prime minister, Netanyahu chose not to ratify the agreement, in an attempt to contain the “oil pipeline” and refrain from creating a crisis between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi after the Knesset elections that took place last March, and during the negotiations to form the government, he deliberately did not address the requests submitted by the nature conservation societies. and environment to reconsider the agreement.
Netanyahu also silenced the initiative of former Environment Minister Gila Gamaliel of the Likud party, who asked – a week before the end of her term – of the National Security Council to cancel the agreement for fear of operations she described as “terrorist” that might target the detonation of the oil pipeline and cause an environmental and natural disaster in the south of the country.
Memorandum of Understanding
In a letter sent to National Security Council Chairman Meir Ben-Shabbat; Gamliel claimed that meetings that were supposed to take place on the agreement between the directors of Netanyahu’s office, Environmental Protection, Finance and Energy, have been canceled several times.
Gamaliel was surprised by “the absence of a substantive government discussion of a very important issue, as the agreement was signed without her knowledge of the wording and terms, and without consulting the Ministry of Environmental Protection before signing it.”
According to the economic newspaper Globes, the memorandum of understanding allows the UAE to use the “Katsa oil pipeline” that was inaugurated by Israel in the 1960s, and it will be possible to transport Emirati oil through the Red Sea to the city of Eilat, and then unload its tankers there to be transported The oil pipeline crossed to the port of Ashkelon and from there to Europe.
Despite the secrecy on the terms of the memorandum of understanding; The value of the Israeli profits from the deal is estimated at about $800 million over 5 years, and Israeli environmental organizations say that if the agreement is approved, 120 oil tankers carrying tens of millions of barrels will be allowed to pass through.
Environmental and security risks
According to Yisrael Fischer, the economic correspondent of the Israeli newspaper “Demarker”; The opposition expressed by Israeli circles to the memorandum of understanding – regarding the transfer of Emirati oil through the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline – will not lead to a crisis between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.
In addition to the environmental disaster that may occur to nature and coral reefs in the Red Sea – according to the petition submitted by Israeli environmental organizations and associations to the Israeli Supreme Court – the former Minister of Environmental Quality Gamaliel warned of security risks, as the start of the transfer of Emirati oil from Eilat to the port of Ashkelon – in May Last May – With the military campaign on the Gaza Strip.
Former Minister Gamaliel wrote to the Israeli National Security Council, “We must act in advance to prevent a future catastrophe, and not wonder at a later time what could have been done to avoid any environmental catastrophe of marine pollution of the country’s shores or security incidents.”
Gamaliel indicated that an oil tanker in Ashkelon – located near the Eurasian Pipeline Complex (EAPC) – was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fired from Gaza last May, Haaretz newspaper reported.
According to what the former minister stated in her letter sent this June, the damage that would be caused to the stations and tanks of the Eurasian Pipeline Company in Ashkelon or Eilat, could be catastrophic and unprecedented for Israel.
Exceptions and Mute ّ
It is noteworthy that EAPC is an Israeli government company operating under exceptions until 2022 that allow it to conceal its activity and agreements without complying with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, while exempting it from bidding obligations and regulatory provisions related to the method of hiring employees and their salaries, or disclosing its investments, and fuel sourcing and sales to third parties.
The Eurasian Pipeline was re-established in April 2019 to run the old company, which was established in the late 1960s as a joint venture between Iran and the Israeli government, with a vision for the flow of fuel from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean countries, via an overland pipeline from Eilat to Ashkelon.
The Israeli company is also responsible for operating the oil stations in Eilat and Ashkelon and the fuel tank complexes in southern Israel, supplying crude oil to refineries and monopolizing the import of cooking gas into the country.