Israel’s oil wars shift to the Golan Heights


Illustrative photo of an oil rig (photo credit: Dwight Burdette/Wikimedia Commons/File)
Environmentalists made headlines two weeks ago when they blocked a controversial oil shale pilot project in the Shfela; largely unnoticed, the same US parent company has won approval for exploratory drilling up north.

By Melanie LidmanThe Times of Israel

What if Moses had made a right turn?

According to the old joke, if Moses had turned right when he led the Jews out of the Sinai Desert after 40 years of wandering, perhaps the Jewish people, rather than the Saudi Arabians, would be sitting on large oil reserves.

But an American oil company is convinced that Moses may not have been wrong after all. It is betting millions of dollars on the hope that Israel actually has enormous amounts of oil inside its borders that could meet most of the country’s needs. The only problem? The oil is either trapped deep inside rock, in a compound known as oil shale, or located hazardously close to Israel’s freshwater reserves.

Environmental activists won an important victory on September 2 when the Jerusalem Regional Planning and Building Committee denied a pilot program for a controversial new technology to extract oil shale in the Judean lowlands (Shfela) near Beit Shemesh, to the west of Jerusalem. But while the country was focused on the south and the war with Gaza over the summer, the Northern Regional Planning and Building Committee quietly approved a pilot for drilling in the Golan Heights.

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