Netanyahu: Egypt Gas Dispute Just ´Business´ (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Gabe Kahn 04/23/12)
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday said Egypt´s decision to
cancel the Egypt-Israel gas deal was "a business dispute" rather than
being political in nature.
"We don´t see this cutoff of the gas as something that is born out of
political developments. It´s actually a business dispute between the
Israeli company and the Egyptian company," Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu told a group of Israel Bonds leaders today.
Netanyahu added, "But alongside that I have to say that we have gas
reserves to make Israel totally energy independent, not only from
Egypt but from any other source, and to have Israel become one of the
world´s large exporters of natural gas. So we´re quite confident on
However, Knesset opposition leader Shaul Mofaz described Egypt´s
decision as a "possible breach of the Camp David accords."
He also called on the United States, who brokered the 1978 Egypt-
Israel Peace Treaty, to immediately "take a clear stand" on the issue.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman went as far as to
suggest bolstering Israel´s military presence along the Sinai border.
"The Egyptian case is much more worrisome than the Iranian one," The
Hebrew-language Ma´ariv quoted him as saying.
Late on Sunday the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) issued a
statement that Egypt was ending the Gas Supply and Purchase Agreement
between the two parties.
“Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation [EGPC] and the [state-run]
Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company [EGAS] notified EMG that they
were terminating the Gas Supply and Purchase Agreement between the
parties,” the Ampal statement read.
The company added "EMG considers the termination attempt unlawful and
in bad faith, and consequently demanded its withdrawal."
EMG, Ampal and EMG´s other shareholders were "considering their
options and legal remedies as well as approaching the various
governments," it added.
Israel, through the Ampal-American Israel Corporation, owns a 12.5
per cent stake in EMG.
Egyptian Petroleum Authority head Hany Dahy told Al-Jazeera late
Sunday that Egypt is ready to consider any offers from EMG
regarding "late payments."
"We have approached the Israeli side for the delayed payments but to
no avail," Dahy said during a television interview..
He added that the decision to terminate the contract was taken after
detailed legal consultation.
Dahy said the contract stipulates that one of the parties can
terminate its obligations if the other does not fully comply with the
terms of the contract.
"All legal precautions were taken to shelter Egypt from any legal
claims for reparations following the decision," Dahy said.
Egypt´s Mubarak-era gas deal with Israel has been an issue of
controversy since its inception.
Critics have openly accused the ousted Egyptian strongman Hosni
Mubarak of selling the gas to Israel at below international prices in
what they term a "sweetheart deal."
However, Israeli officials have repeatedly noted that the price they
pay for natural gas is better than other regional exporters receive
and is in line with international prices.
Nonetheless, Mubarak is currently on trial, facing charges of
conspiring with fugitive businessman Hussein Salem to export gas to
Israel at below market prices.
Former minister of petroleum, Sameh Fahmy, as well as other former
Egyptian officials are also on trial because of the prices stipulated
in the gas deal with Israel.
Since the January 25 2011 uprising that led to Mubarak´s ouster on 11
February 2011, the Sinai gas pipeline feeding Israel and Jordan has
been bombed 14 times.
Previous explosions have resulted in weeks-long supply stoppages to
Israel and Jordan, and spiking electricity costs for consumers in the
Egypt´s interim military junta and now-ascendant Islamist
parliamentary majority have been under strong public pressure to
cancel the gas deal with Israel.
Officials in Cairo have also sought to retroactively alter the deal
and raise prices in a move rejected by Israeli officials.
Political analysts say that unilaterally cancelling the deal based on
late payments - an easily remedied technical contract violation - is
almost certainly a sop to the intense anti-Israel sentiment in post-
The 20-year natural gas deal signed between Israel and Egypt in 2005
has been touted as a pillar of Egyptian-Israeli economic cooperation –
but may now be at an end. (IsraelNationalNews © 2012 04/23/12)
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