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Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry Delays Oil Deal 

Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry said that it was postponing the execution of an oil transport deal with the United Arab Emirates, freezing the oil project. The recent development has angered environmentalists, beyond contemplation. The agreement which followed the UAE and Israel established diplomatic ties last year.

It is then moved by pipeline through mainland Israel to the Mediterranean port of Ashkelon, from where it would be shipped to Europe. The ministry informed Israel’s state-owned Europe Asia Pipeline Company on Sunday that it rejected an environmental risk survey that was carried out in connection with the deal.

The ministry also said that it would halt work to assess the EAPC’s readiness to receive greater numbers of Gulf oil tankers at Eilat. This said that the ministry is until the government has discussed and made a decision on the controversial memorandum of understanding the company signed with the UAE in October.It remains unclear which, if any, government ministries, knew about the deal before it was signed. The contents have not been made public. The agreement is contradicted by the former and current Israel’s Environmental Protection ministers, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the local coastal authorities, a forum of some 20 environmental organizations, scores of scientists and Eilat residents.

Israel’s Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg said that she was determined that the government would discuss the deal, which will not contribute to the Israeli economy while threatening the coral reefs of the Gulf of Eilat and the resort town’s tourism. The EAPC’s risk survey said that the severe damage leading to a full loss of the entire content of a tanker or external damage to a tanker and significant loss of content would only occur once every 366,300 years.