Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today  at a ceremony in the Haifa Bay area, dedicated the linking up of Haifa and the north to the natural gas pipeline.

Following Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Eyal Gabai’s discussions with local council heads, landowners and Druze community representatives, the Government approved an outline for financial compensation for landowners through the properties of which the natural gas pipeline was to run.  On places where Highway #6, railway lines and the gas pipeline will run, alternative land exchanges will be carried out.

After the outline was approved, several landowners appealed to the High Court of Justice and sought to halt the work.  The High Court refused to order a halt to the work and is continuing to hold a discussion regarding the implementation of the Government decision.

The supply of natural gas to the Haifa power plant, the refineries and many factories in the Haifa Bay area is designed to reduce air pollution and related illnesses in the area and improve the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the Greater Haifa metropolitan area.  Moreover, the price of natural gas is significantly lower than the fuels being used today by factories in the area.  Thus, cost reductions will save the Israeli economy hundreds of millions of dollars per annum.

The route of the natural gas pipeline begins on the Dor coast [between Haifa and Hadera], passes via Yokneam into the Kishon River basin and ends in the Haifa Bay area.  The pipeline was previously laid from the Dor coast to Yokneam and from Haifa Bay to the Valleys interchange [between Kiryat Tivon and Nesher].  The section dedicated today in the Kishon River basin completes the missing section and allows the natural gas to flow.

It should be noted that work had been halted under the previous Government due to disputes with landowners via the land of which the infrastructures were to run.

It should be pointed out that the Government is working to strengthen the Druze communities and population.  At its 13.2.11 meeting, the Cabinet approved a multi-year plan and allocated NIS 680 million to deal with the education, housing, employment and other problems in the sector.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that, "Israel needs natural gas.  When there is no natural gas, there are tons of pollutants per annum, which we will all – residents, communities and children – now be spared.  We knew that we had to remove these impediments for the public health, for clean air, for cheaper energy and for jobs and strengthening the north.  When the Government makes a decision, it carries it out.  We are a nation of laws and the Government is acting in accordance with its right and its obligation.  However, we are also generous and sensitive to the needs of our people.  We acted very generously and the exchanges and compensation must be given willingly and unselfishly.  Today, we are supplying natural gas.  This bodes well for the north and for the entire State of Israel."