The details of an arbitration process between Israel and Iran that has been going on for more than two decades will remain secret for the time being, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirming his belief that national security interests were wound up in the oil dispute. He signed a new secrecy order regarding the arbitration in 2013.
The dispute goes back to the Iranian revolution of 1979. Israel and the prior Iranian government had partnered on a pipeline to bring Iranian oil to Israel – a pipeline that was completed and operational. When the revolution came, Israel continued to operate the pipeline despite Iran’s declaration that the pipeline was its property, and did not pay Iran any fees or profit shares as a result of the sale of the oil pumped. Iran launched the arbitration shortly afterwards and the process has gone from court to court as Israel continues to throw up roadblocks and legal maneuvers in an effort to avoid paying Iran any monies.
The new secrecy law was in response to a request filed in Israel under the Freedom of Information Law requesting information about the arbitration. Without the extra order signed by Netanyahu, the Israeli courts would likely have granted the request under the existing law. However, the lawyer who filed the request initially has sued, arguing that the Prime Minister’s order was not legal for a variety of reasons. Until that suit is settled, the details of the arbitration filings remain a state secret.