Despite booming U.S. oil production, the Obama administration has not extended a 40-year agreement to supply Israel with emergency oil that expired last year.
It’s unclear if the Department of State has made any progress at all on renewing the emergency oil supply agreement with Israel since it expired late last year. The department did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. Republicans have also expressed concerns that the Obama administration is abandoning the long-held agreement to provide Israel with oil during emergencies. They argue it’s imperative to renew the agreement amid growing threats from the Islamic State and other militant groups.
Republican lawmakers wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry March 12th, urging him to renew the agreement as a “gesture of support to our friend and ally at this challenging time.”
“We have a long history of working with Israel on issues related to energy and the environment,” said Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “Given the heightened tensions in the region, it’s only prudent that we reaffirm our commitment to our allies.”
The agreement expired in late Nov. 2014 and, at the time, the State Department told Reuters it was working on renewing the deal with the Israeli government. But that was months ago, and there is still no news of the deal being renewed.
The administration’s foot-dragging on renewing an emergency oil deal with Israel comes amid booming U.S. oil production. In Dec. 2014, the U.S. produced 9.2 million barrels of oil per day — the most since the 1970s.
The deal was first agreed to in 1975, but wasn’t made official until 1979, after the Iranian revolution sent oil prices skyward, sparking fears of more supply disruptions in the Middle East. Under the deal, the U.S. not only guaranteed Israel’s ability to buy American crude oil, but the agreement said the U.S. would make “every effort” to make sure it was safely reached Israeli soil.
The most recent oil supply agreement, commits the U.S. to “provide oil for Israel when the price Israel pays for crude rises 20 percent above the average of several benchmark crudes,” reports the Houston Chronicle. “And if Israel lost 22 percent of its supply from major suppliers, the United States would be obligated to make oil available to the country without delay.”
The U.S.-Israeli oil deal was one of the few exceptions to the U.S. ban on crude oil exports sparked by the Arab oil embargo in the mid-1970s. Luckily, Israel has never been forced to ask the U.S. for emergency oil supplies.
But that was then and this is now. The Obama administration’s relationship with Israel has been seen as deteriorating especially as the administration engages in talks with Iran about its nuclear energy program.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been highly critical of these talks, and it’s no secret the Obama administration has been frustrated by Israel’s criticisms of a nuclear deal with Iran.
The Obama administration actually campaigned against Netanyahu’s party in the recent Israeli election. The election was close, but Bibi came away victorious despite efforts to drum him out of office.
“Against all odds, we achieved a great victory for the Likud,” Netanyahu told supporters on the news of his victory. “I am proud of the people of Israel, who in the moment of truth knew how to distinguish between what is important and what is peripheral, and to insist on what is important.”
The emergency oil supply agreement with Israel has been extended by the U.S. twice before, once in 1994 and again in 2004.
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