‘Kosher electricity’ pilot program: Liberman slams religious Jews, claims ‘working Israelis’ will foot the bill

“What we approved today won’t raise electricity costs by even an ‘agora’ for the public,” stated Energy Minister Israel Katz.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel’s government on Sunday approved the first phase of a national program for energy storage that would include a pilot facility for “kosher electricity.”

Orthodox Jews do not turn on electricity on the Sabbath or on Jewish festivals, in observance of Torah law.

The Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, communities – as opposed to more moderate religious Jews, who rely on timers – are opposed to methods that would likely involve other Jews in producing that electricity. Instead, many use generators, which are unsafe and more costly than regular electricity, and for many years their leaders have been seeking a better solution.

Following the November 1st national election, this type of energy-storage plan was included in the coalition agreement between the United Torah Judaism party and Likud.

The program, however, will cost roughly NIS 120 million ($33 million).

In an interview with Hebrew-language Ynet, Dr. Amit Mor, CEO of Eco-Energy, a strategic economic consultant and a senior lecturer at Reichman University, explained why he believes it is necessary.

“Since the 1980s, if you walk around on Shabbat in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, you hear the noise of diesels. They burn very expensive, very polluting and smelly diesel,” he said.

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More important, he stressed, is the danger involved, especially to children, who could be burned or electrocuted.

Israel Beitenu party leader Avigdor Liberman, a harsh critic of both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and haredim, slammed the proposal on Twitter.

“While the citizens of Israel are collapsing under the price increases and the cost of living continues to soar, what is the main thing that Netanyahu brings to the cabinet meeting this morning? Kosher electricity” he wrote.

“The establishment of the storage facilities involves a huge investment of billions of shekels….

“One of the most important components in those facilities is a metal called lithium, the most expensive in the world. All this expenditure will be passed on through the electricity tariff to all consumers in the State of Israel.

“According to all the calculations I tried to do, the full deployment of kosher electricity throughout the country, something that is clear to all of us that we will reach when the time comes, including the production and transmission of the electricity will cost at least 90 billion NIS, i.e. 10,000 NIS per citizen. It is clear to all of us that the one who will finance it, is the same middle class, the same people who serve in the IDF, make reserves, work and pay taxes.

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“This is not a fight against the cost of living, it is the creation and worsening of the cost of living. You are tired of being cut off. Take responsibility and resign,” he concluded.

Energy Minister Israel Katz said the program would not cost the Israeli public even a single agora – one one-hundredth of a shekel; rather, it would “facilitate the production of electricity in low-demand times to provide it at high-demand ones, including to Haredi neighborhoods.”

The storage facility, in fact, would be “profitable,” he said.

“According to the decision, which is in the opinion of all the professional parties, the Electricity Authority will formulate the horizontal regulation (regulation) for ‘Kosher Electricity’ and the pilot of the Electricity Company, so that there will be no increase in the electricity tariff as a result of these moves,” the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure stated.

The pilot program will be launched in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, a suburb of Tel Aviv.