Netanyahu plays down gas dispute with Egypt
[Juan Cole ] Egypt has terminated the Mubarak-era natural gas deal with Israel.
Israel got 40% of its gas from Egypt, but has been forced to seek other sources at world market prices.
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, his then energy minister, and a major businessman have been charged with taking personal bribes to sell Israel gas at far below-market prices.
The revolutionaries in Egypt have been demanding that the corrupt deal, typical of the Mubarak era, be cancelled, and likely the decision was aimed in part at mollifying an angry public ahead of the May 23 presidential elections.
Although Israeli officials have muttered about the cancellation being contrary to the Camp David peace treaty, that is nonsense.
Nothing in Camp David obliged Egypt to sell gas to Israel at a deep discount.
The likelihood is that Israeli interests got the deal through graft and should themselves be investigated for possible criminality (the story may come out in the Egyptian trials of former officials).
While the cancellation does not signal an end to Egyptian peace with Israel, it does signal that the supine subjection of Egypt to Israeli interests is coming to an end.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s prime minister on Monday scrambled to contain the damage from Egypt’s decision to cut off natural gas exports, dismissing the matter as a mere “business dispute” as he tried to prevent a full-fledged diplomatic crisis.
The comments by Benjamin Netanyahu contrasted with earlier statements by Cabinet ministers who warned the Egyptian move threatened to harm already shaky relations between the two nations.
“We don’t see this cutoff of the gas as something that is born out of political developments,” Netanyahu said. “It’s actually a business dispute between the Israeli company and the Egyptian company.”
Israel and Egypt signed a historic peace treaty in 1979, and while relations have never been particularly warm, the quiet border has been critical for the security of the two neighbors. Egyptian energy exports to Israel and other business ties have helped keep the peace.
Aljazeera has a video report:
Source: Informed Comment
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