Thursday, May 26th | 25 Iyyar 5782

February 26, 2019 10:01 am

Blue and White’s Economics Are Deep Red

avatar by David Hyman /


Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz speaks, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looking on, at the inauguration event of the newly-arrived foundation platform of Leviathan natural gas field, in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Haifa, Jan. 31, 2019. Photo: Marc Israel Sellem / Pool via Reuters. – The highest-ranked female candidate on the Blue and White Party list, veteran news anchor Miki Haimovich, discussed how she thought Israel should develop its natural-gas resources: Leave it in the sea, she told the Ynet news site. We should use what we have, she said, and leave the big deposits (Leviathan, for example) where they are.

Unlike those before her who tried wrecking this wonderful endeavor, Haimovich didn’t raise economic points, but rather environmental ones. True, she explained, diesel, oil, and coal cause much more pollution than gas, but there are energy sources that pollute even less — wind and sun. If we invest in these alternative energies, we won’t need other sources, even oil, she said.

Haimovich also said it was no coincidence that Blue and White list leader Benny Gantz made her the No. 1 woman on the list. He agrees with her opinions, she stated with satisfaction, as does Telem leader and fellow Blue and White list member Moshe Ya’alon. So we can assume that Haimovich’s idea to leave the gas in the seabed is likely to be adopted.

Haimovich is a woman of values, and the interview gave the impression that her goal of addressing the environment, rather than popular issues, is pure (literally) and true, and does not stem from narrow interests or populism.

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But sometimes, people with good intentions can cause immense harm. Let’s try and go along with the possible future minister’s interesting idea: If we can’t use natural gas, it will incentivize the government to invest in the development of solar and wind energy. That could take years — in the meantime, more people will die as a result of pollution (and be called “environmental victims”), but eventually, years from now, we’ll breathe cleaner air than we would if we used gas for energy.

Isn’t that worth looking into? There might be something to that.

But one thing isn’t entirely clear and raises a major question for the engineers of the economic train who want us to hand over the keys to the engine: What about exports? If she’s really worried about the air that Israelis breathe, why not export the gas to countries who think otherwise? Why not develop the Leviathan gas field and use it to bring billions of shekels into the state coffers that could be used to develop alternative energy sources, among other things?

A coalition under Gantz would be the most socialist-oriented government since the state was founded. The astonishing ideas of Haimovich, Knesset member Stav Shaffir, and Meretz Party members; the demands that the big unions will make of former Histadrut Labor Federation head Avi Nissankoren if he becomes finance minister; and demands from the haredi parties, who will have it in their power to tip the balance — all this will require massive additions to the budget, not cuts to state revenue.

This just isn’t the time to put our trust in the sun and the wind.

David Hyman is an accountant.

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