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Israel's Economy Minister resigns, paving path for contentious gas deal


JERUSALEM — An Israeli Cabinet minister has resigned, clearing the way for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to circumvent a ruling of the country's antitrust commissioner and advance a contentious natural gas deal.

Israel discovered two large fields in 2009 and 2010. But exploiting the gas has turned out to be more complicated than anticipated, amid repeated disputes over pricing, export policies and how to split profits with energy companies developing the fields.

Critics accused Netanyahu of caving into a monopoly at the expense of Israel's coffers.

Economy Minister Arieh Deri had refused to overrule the antitrust commissioner. With his departure Sunday, Netanyahu can now push forward. He says gas will be Israel's "number one growth engine" in the coming years.

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