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Egypt's ambassador to Israel: Cairo not behind decision to nix gas deal

Ambassador Yasser Reda tells Deputy FM Ayalon decision to terminate agreement to supply natural gas to Israel 'financial, not political'.

Egypt offers to sell gas to Israel at new price - A senior Egyptian minister said on Monday her country is ready to resume gas exports to Israel but at a new price, after scrapping a long-term contract.

International Cooperation Minister "Fayza Abul Naga said the Egyptian side had no objections to reaching a new contract with new conditions and a new price," the official MENA news agency reported.

It is unclear whether the decision to terminate the gas supply would affect U.S. assistance to Egypt. Congress has recently warned that its assistance depends on maintaining the peace accords with Israel, yet did not list the gas agreement as one of the conditions.
U.S. assistance to Egypt amounts to approximately 1.3 billion dollars in military aid and an additional 300 million dollars in economic aid.

The announcement by Egypt's petroleum company (EGAS) constitutes a virtual suicide act by Cairo. One could have expected that a country which lost most of its tourism revenue over the last year (its most important source of income other than the Suez Canal), suffers from a high poverty rate and lack of foreign investments, would hold on to a significant source of income. Under the agreement, Egypt began delivering gas to Israel in 2008 in a framework of a 2005 political agreement which has significantly enriched Egypt's coffers.

And yet in the context of the growing anti-Israel sentiments in Egypt, the decision comes as no surprise. In recent days, Muslim Brotherhood leaders have launched a smear campaign against Egyptian Grand Mufti, Ali Gomaa for visiting Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque last week – apparently with the Israeli authorities' consent.
It seems that on the eve of the Egyptian presidential elections, the situation on the ground has never been so chaotic: Egypt still does not have a constitution defining the president's authority, and it remains unclear who will lead the committee to draft such a document. On Sunday, in a bid to calm public sentiment, a senior Military Council member said the elections will take place as planned and that authority will be fully transferred to the elected official.

Egypt's ambassador to Israel and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon discussed on Monday the termination of Cairo's agreement to supply natural gas to Israel.

During the meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Ambassador Yasser Reda, who was accompanied by his deputy, stressed that the Egyptian government was not behind the decision to nix the deal, adding that "it is a financial, not political matter."

Ayalon said in response that Israel expects Egypt to resolve the dispute, adding that maintaining normal relations between Cairo and Jerusalem was crucial for regional stability.

The gas pipeline carrying gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan has been sabotaged 14 times since the resignation of former President Hosni Mubarak. The last explosion took place a few weeks ago near the city of El-Arish.

The pipeline has been shut since an explosion on February 5.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a group of Israel Bonds leaders on Monday, "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," Netanyahu's office quoted him as saying.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: "The deal to supply gas is not part of the peace deal, but it is an important commercial deal that was an expression of the stable ties between the states. The unilateral cancellation of the deal is not a good sign, and we hope that this dispute will be resolved like any other commercial dispute, without taking it to the political realm,"

Published: 04.23.12,7340,L-4220151,00.html,7340,L-4220212,00.html

Photos: One out of many blasts in Egypt gas pipeline, Ambassador Reda in Jerusalem -

Added: Apr-23-2012 Occurred On: Apr-23-2012
By: aydeo
Other Middle East
Tags: Egypt's ambassador, Cairo, Gas deal
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