Middle East

Israel's Supreme Court shoots down gas deal

File - In this Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016  file photo, an activist wears a mask bearing a portrait of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a protest against a natural gas deal signed in December, 2015 with U.S. and Israeli developers for drilling offshore gas deposits, in front of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. Israel's Supreme Court has ruled against the governments framework deal for its natural gas reserves granting a year for issues to be worked out on Sunday, March 27, 2016.  (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)

File - In this Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016 file photo, an activist wears a mask bearing a portrait of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a protest against a natural gas deal signed in December, 2015 with U.S. and Israeli developers for drilling offshore gas deposits, in front of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. Israel's Supreme Court has ruled against the governments framework deal for its natural gas reserves granting a year for issues to be worked out on Sunday, March 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)  (The Associated Press)

Israel's Supreme Court has overturned the government's landmark deal to begin pumping natural gas, handing a painful blow to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a consortium of energy companies.

Sunday's decision gave parliament a year to amend the plan or the framework will be canceled.

Netanyahu has made the gas deal a centerpiece of his agenda, saying the discovery of large reserves would bring energy self-sufficiency and billions of dollars in tax revenues. Critics have said the deal gave excessively favorable terms to the government's corporate partners.

Resource-poor Israel announced the discovery of sizeable offshore natural gas deposits about five years ago, and a partnership of Israeli and U.S. companies, including Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel's Delek Group — have already begun extracting some reserves.