´Nixed gas deal not a political decision´ (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Attila Somfalvi Published: 04.23.12, 08:27)
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Israeli officials claim termination of gas deal with Egypt stems from
commercial dispute, while gas company accuses government of evading
responsibility. Egyptian presidential candidates: Decision is will of
Egypt´s presidential candidates on Sunday welcomed the decision to
terminate the gas deal with Israel, calling it "the will of the
"The Egyptian people, who managed to withstand Israel and refused
normalization despite the peace treaty, is definitely not interested
in the gas export agreement with Israel," Abd el-Munam Abu al-Fatuah,
one of the leading presidential candidates, said.
During an interview with al-Hayat TV station, Fatuah said that he
does not see the export of gas to Israel as part of the normalization
process. "As long as the Egyptian people don´t want it, the president
has to abide by their wishes," he said, adding that he had asked the
Foreign Ministry to reexamine the deal in the past, but was told that
it was under the responsibility of the presidential palace, and not
Fatuah criticized former President Hosni Mubarak, claiming that his
regime protected Israel´s interests over that of its own people.
Fatuah´s presidential rival, Hamdeen Sabahi, posted a message on
Twitter, expressing hope that the decision to discontinue gas exports
to Israel will be permanent, "Out of respect to the Egyptian people
and in order to sustain Egypt´s national resources."
´Not a political decision´
Meanwhile, Israeli officials claimed on Sunday that the decision had
to do with a commercial dispute between
a private company and Egyptian governmental companies, and had
nothing to do with the relationship between the two countries; but an
official at Ampal-American Israel Corporation, a partner in the East
Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) said that "Israel´s government was
evading responsibility by trying to paint the decision as merely a
commercial or economic one.
"This is a blatant political decision, which can send Egypt 30 years
backwards," the official said.
However, some Egyptian officials echoed Israel´s claim that the
decision came on the heels of a commercial dispute. Former Egyptian
official Ibrahim Yasri, who was in charge of international agreements
in Egypt´s Foreign Ministry, told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Sunday that the
decision stems from the Israeli companies´ failure to make payments.
Mohamed Shoeb, the head of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company
also said Sunday it had terminated its contract because of violations
of contractual obligations.
Shoeb stressed the decision to cancel the deal was not political.
"This has nothing to do with anything outside of the commercial
relations," he told The Associated Press.
Either way, a senior Jerusalem official stressed that the decision
did not come as a surprise: "There are internal pressures from the
Egyptian public and the Muslim Brotherhood to annul the agreement,
which as far as they are concerned is part of the cycle of corruption
set up by the previous regime.
"On top of that, the Egyptians donít want to deal with the Bedouins
in the Sinai Peninsula who keep blowing up parts of the gas pipe
every few weeks. But the main purpose behind the Egyptian decision is
to satisfy public opinion, especially ahead of the upcoming
elections. Canceling the gas deal with Israel does not violate the
peace agreement, because the deal is between companies who are
supported by the governments," he said. Roi Kais contributed to this
decision (Copyright 2012 © Yedioth Internet 04/23/12)
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