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Report on an Academic Infrastructure for the Mediterranean EEZ and Oil and Gas Related Research and Education in Israel

In 2011 the president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities appointed two committees to examine, on behalf of the Academy, the establishment of an academic infrastructure for Mediterranean EEZ oil and gas related research and education in Israel.
The first committee was international, whose members consist of world-renowned researchers. They immediately accepted the Academy’s request. Following the report of the international committee, an Israeli committee was established. It analyzed the international committee’s report and prepared, according to its conclusions, a national academic emergency plan for the subject.
Appointing assessment committees and submitting recommendation are done by virtue of the Academy’s function to advise the Israeli government on science policy, according to the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities Law, 1961. Dozens of the finest members of the Israeli scientific community participate in this activity of national-scientific consultation voluntarily and without prejudice.
Following the discovery of gas reservoirs in Israel’s Mediterranean EEZ, the public debate focused mainly on the economical and legal implications. An important aspect was not discussed: conserving, fostering and sustaining the national assets of these reservoirs by training Israeli research and teaching faculty, not in existence presently.
The reports were submitted to the prime-minister, the relevant ministers, and the heads of Universities, Israel Science Foundation and the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education.
The reports describe a grave situation in need of immediate action. A survey of the state of the relevant research and teaching in Israel, conducted by the international committee of experts at the initiative of the Academy, points to extremely wide knowledge gaps in key disciplines. There are almost no renowned independent researchers of these fields in the Israeli academic community. A meaningful inclusion of academia by the government and industry is also lacking.
A large part of the geological knowledge is covert, in the hands of commercial entities and un-available to the research community in Israel. The plan prepared by the Israeli committee is aimed at creating independent knowledge centers in the higher education system, which will train professionals for the benefit of decision-makers and local industry as well as serve as an objective source of knowledge for the general public. Due to the currently low opening position, the initiative must be immediate and top-down.