The Israeli cabinet approved on Sunday the decision to export 40 percent of Israel\'s natural gas, according to a statement by the Prime Minister\'s Office. Israel will then, according to the decision, keep 60 percent of its estimated gas reserves, which means approximately 540 billion cubic meters (BCM) of natural gas for Israeli market in the next few decades. In 2012, the Israeli economy consumed seven billion BCM of natural gas. The decision to export natural gas will, in the meantime, satisfy exploration companies seeking access to the global market. Government\'s projections show that the sum of money from royalties could amount to 60 billion U.S. dollars in the next twenty years. \"The State of Israel has received a gift from nature -- gas in vast quantities,\" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during the Sunday cabinet meeting, referring to the substantial natural gas reservoirs discovered off the shores of Israel in the past several years. \"Thanks to the decision we made today, every Israeli citizen will enjoy this gift. We will lower the cost of living in the electricity sector via this gas, that will flow into the Israeli economy and invest in the public welfare with the profits from the gas exports,\" he said. But there is also public criticism over the move. On the one hand, the figure of 40 percent is lower than the 53 percent that the Tzemach Committee, an inter-ministerial committee recommending the government\'s gas policy has recommended to release for export. A higher rate of export serves the interests of gas and energy exploration companies, who operated a strong lobby in order to increase the quota for export. On the other, Israeli environment activists insisted the country needs to retain the natural gas and use it for its needs before exporting it to other countries. Social activists also opposed exporting Israel\'s natural gas, claiming it is giving away the country\'s resources to the highest bidder instead of sharing the wealth with Israel\'s citizens, who, in fact, own the natural resources.