Israel’s Energy Minister Says UAE Pipeline Deal Should Be Canceled

Israel’s Energy Minister Karin Elharrar said on Tuesday that an agreement with UAE partners to transport oil from the Gulf to Europe via Israel should be canceled as it was too great an environmental risk.

The opposition of Energy Minister Karine Elharrar raises questions about whether the Israeli government will approve the agreement, one of the most important that arose from the normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates last year.

The agreement was signed between Israel’s state-owned Europe-Asia Pipeline Company (EAPC) and MED-RED Land Bridge, a company with Israeli and Emirati owners.

The idea was that the oil would be offloaded from tankers at the Red Sea port of Eilat and then transferred through Israel on an existing pipeline to the Mediterranean coast.

The companies involved say that this land bridge is the shortest, most efficient and most profitable route to transport oil from the Gulf to the West. But environmental groups, who have asked Israel’s Supreme Court to freeze the deal, say the influx of tankers and crude oil is a major ecological risk.

Members of a clean-up team work at the EAPC oil spill site in the Evrona desert reserve in Arava. (credit: REUTERS / BAZ RATNER)

“I am asking to cancel the EAPC agreement. It presents many risks for the Gulf of Eilat, for the residents, and it does not benefit Israel’s energy market,” Elharrar said in a statement.

He said UAE officials told him the deal should be seen as an agreement between private companies and that its cancellation “is not expected to affect ties between the countries.”

EAPC has said that the new business is part of its routine operations and met the strictest international standards. He also said the deal had geopolitical benefits.

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