Israel's Environment Minister has today said an oil transport deal with the UAE has been effectively blocked.
Speaking to Israeli Army Radio, Tamar Zandberg said that "the agreement cannot be realised", following a Justice Ministry ruling that her office had the authority to limit the activities of the Israeli government-owned corporation signed into the deal.
"The deal exists on paper but there is no way to realise it," she said, adding that "They won't bring in more tankers than what the current permit allows."
The controversial deal which was agreed after the two countries normalised relations last year, would have seen Gulf oil entering Israel's Red Sea port of Eilat, increasing the number of tankers docking and unloading there, before moving overland via pipeline to the Mediterranean port of Ashkelon.
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The clandestine deal was signed between the government-owned Europe-Asia Pipeline Company (EAPC) and the recently formed MED-RED Land Bridge, a joint Israeli-Emirati venture. The EAPC was established in the 1960s with pre-revolutionary Iran, intended to bring Iranian oil into Israel when the two countries had friendly relations.
However, the plan faced strong opposition from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, consisting of 20 environmental organisations and scores of scientists who expressed concern over Eilat's coral reefs, which would be threatened by the increased tanker traffic.
Last week the environmentalists welcomed the Justice Ministry's decision in favour of the Environmental Protection Ministry, with the groups subsequently withdrawing their lawsuit at a Supreme Court hearing.
In October, The Times of Israel reported that a senior official at the UAE's embassy in the country said that the deal's cancellation would in no way impact relations between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv and that it had nothing to do with the normalisation agreement, known as the Abraham Accords.
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