Environmental groups win legal battle to end oil transport deal


A view of the port of Eilat from the sea.

The state attorney’s office has confirmed a decision by the Ministry of Environmental Protection to deny permits for an overland oil transport deal with the United Arab Emirates, which could endanger the ecology of southern Israel in danger.

State attorneys told the High Court that, in their view, EPM had full authority to act as it did to block the project, which would have enabled the state-owned Europe Asia Pipeline Company to transfer approximately 14 million tonnes of crude oil from the Gulf by land. from its terminal on the Red Sea, in Eilat, to its facilities in Ashkelon, on the Mediterranean Sea.

The failure to obtain will effectively void a memorandum of understanding signed last year between the United Arab Emirates and Israel by the EAPC (formerly Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co.) with MED-RED Land Bridge, an Israeli joint venture. Emirati.

The three environmental organizations that had asked the court to stop the project withdrew their petitions on Thursday, as it became clear that with the government fully on their side, the battle was won.

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg said after the court hearing: “The result is clear, the zero addition risk policy in the Gulf of Eilat is supported by the state. We will stop the expansion of EAPC activities. We will not allow Israel to turn into a dangerous and oil polluting bridge.

The EAPC declined to release details of the deal, and it remains unclear if anyone in government saw it before it was signed, according to The Times of Israel.

The UAE has sought to avoid becoming embroiled in the controversy, claiming its government is not a party to the deal and denying the EAPC’s claims that the cancellation would harm the development of bilateral ties.

The deal was fought against by former and current environmental protection ministers, the Israel Parks and Nature Authority, local coastal authorities, a forum of 20 environmental organizations, dozens of scientists, locals. from Eilat and activists who organized weekly protests across the country.

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