Tuesday, 6 January 2015


They are members of one of Israel’s most secret clubs – veterans of the security establishment, local businessmen and close associates of leading politicians. They sit on the board of the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC), all personal appointments of various finance ministers, controlling the firm under cover of a confidentiality order that keeps information about its activities under wraps.
Like many other mysterious companies, EAPC penetrated the public consciousness only after a major blunder – in this case, the large oil spill from one of its pipelines early last month that caused serious ecological damage to the Evrona nature reserve in Israel’s south.
The ensuing furor raised the question of why the state maintains a company whose activity is shrouded in mystery and exempt from the reporting and oversight required of other public bodies.
EAPC owns and operates two oil ports and terminals, in Eilat and Ashkelon, and a network of pipelines and containers for transporting and storing crude oil, cooking gas and jet fuel. All the oil imported to Israel that is processed by the oil refineries in Haifa and Ashdod passes through the EAPC system, en route to the gas tanks and stove tops in Israel and the occupied territories.
A sister company, Trans-Asiatic Oil, Ltd., operates in parallel from the same offices in the Amot Hamishpat building in Tel Aviv, and is apparently responsible for foreign oil transactions and renting tankers…..
No annual reports to Registrar
Official publications refer to EAPC as a partnership between the government and a “foreign company” or “third party.” The government does not publish organizational or financial data about it, nor does EAPC send annual reports to the Companies Registrar identifying its directors, as other companies must.
However, the EAPC board members can be identified because they are also on the boards of its subsidiaries, which are partners in various power production initiatives, and of a front company in Panama – the Eilat Corporation – which holds some of EAPC’s shares. All of these companies file annual reports to the relevant authorities.
For just over two years, the EAPC board has been chaired by retired general Yossi Peled, who was a minister without portfolio in the previous Netanyahu government. Peled left politics before the term ended, and former Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz appointed Peled to the EAPC post in November 2012.
Shortly afterward, Steinitz adviser David Sharan became company secretary. He recently left that position to become Netanyahu’s bureau chief. Prior to Peled, the board was headed by twoother retired generals, Amos Yaron (2008-2012) and Oren Shahor (2003-2008).
Other board members with security profiles are Uri Lubrani and former Mossad head Zvi Zamir. Both played key roles in the abandoned alliance between Israel and the Shah’s regime in Iran – Lubrani as an unofficial ambassador in Tehran; Zamir as point man with the Savak, the Shah’s secret police. Lubrani, now 88, and Zamir, 89, have remained on the board, despite the changes in governments and ministers.
Other longtime members of EAPC’s board are Matti Grossinger, a Bnei Brak businessman and a Vizhnitz Hasid; and businessman Moshe Mor of Tel Aviv. Newer members include Amos Luria, an Armored Corps officer who served as CEO of the Magen David Adom rescue service and city manager at the Rehovot municipality. In the latter capacity, he was implicated in an election-funding scandal involving then Mayor Shuki Forer, but he was acquitted as part of a plea agreement. Other board members include Eitan Padan, a Steinitz associate, and two accountants – Tzahi Havusha and Shahar Shaharabani.