Broken Gas Deal Reflects Tentative Future of Peace Treaty (JEWISH PRESS) By: Yori Yanover 04/27/12)
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According to a recent Reuters report, the Egyptian decision to halt
its already erratic natural gas supply to Israel was not, as the
Egyptian government had put it, due only to financial disagreements.
The report cites shareholders in East Mediterranean Gas Co (EMG) who
stated: “Any attempts to characterize this dispute as a mere
commercial one is misleading. This is a government-backed contract
sealed by a memorandum of understanding between Egypt and Israel that
specifically refers to the (1979) peace treaty.”
The international shareholders further accused the Egyptian oil and
gas companies of failure to protect the pipeline from attack, failure
to repair it promptly and the grim fact that they have “delivered
almost no gas to EMG since February 2011.”
The Egyptian oil and gas companies have incurred substantial
penalties due to their failure to supply the gas, according the
Egypt Natural Gas Co is a also a shareholder in EMG.
(Meanwhile, according to Ha’aretz, the Israel Electric Corporation is
hectically searching for a new source of natural gas. The IEC has
issued an international tender looking to import liquefied natural
gas, expecting to pick up some $800 million worth by December 1,
Al Ahram agrees that “despite both sides claiming this was just a
business deal gone sour, against the backdrop of growing discontent
and following the exchange of heated statements, it has become
apparent that the actions of the neighboring states are political.”
Al Ahram goes on to cite a 2010 Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court
decision overruling a 2008 Administrative Court decision in favor of
terminating the natural gas deal. The argument for the overruling was
that the lower court did not have the authority to infringe on the
In other words, the deal is officially not purely economical, and the
decision to continue or stop the deal is considered by officials to
be a political issue, linked to Egyptian national security.
But Al Ahram goes on to argue that the broken gas deal has not been
the only source of tension between the two countries this week.
On April 21, South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda accused Israel of
trying to harm tourism in the Sinai. He was critical of a call by
Israel’s anti-terrorism unit on Saturday, urging Israelis who were on
holiday in the Sinai peninsula to leave immediately, for fear of
kidnapping attempts and terrorism.
Governor Fouda refuted Israel’s claims, saying they were nothing more
than rumors. The obviously frustrated Fouda said Israel does this
whenever Egypt’s tourism industry sees an improvement. In his
opinion, as soon as occupancy rates at Sharm El-Sheikh hotels reached
65 per cent, Israel released its “irresponsible statement.”
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuted those accusations when
he said on Tuesday that Egypt’s Sinai peninsula had become a “kind of
Wild West” overrun by militants, terrorists and arms smugglers.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman even suggested Israel should post
more troops along the border with Egypt.
Egypt’s military ruler, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, was
not happy. “Our borders, especially the northeast ones, are
inflamed,” he admitted, but then added an angry warning: “We will
break the legs of anyone trying to attack us or who come near the
Even if Israel were to discount much of that belligerent statement as
intended for internal consumption, the sentiment is nevertheless
authentic. Sad as it may sound, despite all the hope to the contrary,
the Camp David peace treaty has not matured over the past 30+ years
to the point where the occasional disagreement could not threaten its
very existence. We may be looking these days at the beginning of the
end of that treaty.
But those seeking positive signs for the future of the Israeli-
Egyptian peace can point to the report this week about the Egyptian
army preventing prevented a local group of Bedouins from defacing an
IDF memorial in the northern Sinai Peninsula. According to Israel’s
Army Radio, the Egyptian military deployed armored vehicles near the
memorial, to prevent the Bedouins from reaching it.
Stay tuned… (© 2012 JewishPress. 04/27/12)
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