The Cabinet today unanimously decided to appoint an inter-ministerial team of directors-general to formulate a national plan to reduce Israel 's dependence on petroleum. National Economic Council Chairman Prof. Eugene Kandel will head the committee, which will report its recommendations to the Cabinet within 120 days. The team will include – inter alia – Finance Ministry Budget Director, Udi Nisan, Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry Director-General, Sharon Kedmi, National Infrastructures Ministry Director-General, Shaul Tzemach, Transportation Ministry Director-General, Yaakov Ganot, Environmental Protection Ministry Director-General, Dr. Yossi Inbar, and Science and Technology Ministry Director-General Menachem Greenbloom. The team will work in cooperation with the scientific committee of Israeli professors that was appointed to this end by Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities Council President, Prof. Menachem Yaari. The team was instructed to consider preferences for academic and industrial research and development, the pooling of Government resources in a national effort in order to spur investment in developing alternatives to petroleum via cooperation with – among others – foreign governments, private industry and donors.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "The Government views research into, and development of, technologies that reduce the global use of petroleum for transportation as a national mission of the highest priority. Our decision today is very important. It has to do with a strategic interest, not only of the State of Israel, but of the entire free world. The world has not devoted enough attention to alternatives for petroleum for transportation and does so only when petroleum prices go up. When prices go down, attention to, and investment in, the field disappears. Therefore, the State of Israel is the only element which can coordinate a persistent effort on research and development concerning petroleum alternatives while bringing in other countries that are interested in freeing themselves from dependence on petroleum supplying countries."
The Cabinet was briefed that several of the major petroleum-exporting countries use the income therefrom to undermine global stability and attack democratic countries' interests. It was also noted that petroleum sources are currently concentrated in the hands of a small number of suppliers who thwart competition. Dependence on petroleum is also a major contributor to air pollution.