April 23, 2012– Israel’s prime minister on Monday played down Egypt’s termination of a gas supply deal after the Israeli finance minister said the move cast a shadow over the peace agreement between the two countries.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the cancellation of the contract supplying Israel with 40 percent of its gas needs, announced on Sunday, resulted from a business rather than a diplomatic dispute.
Egyptian officials also said it was a trade issue, although there have been growing public calls for Egypt to review ties with Israel since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, for whom a peace treaty with Israel was a cornerstone of regional policy.
Minister of International Cooperation Faiza Abu el-Naga said Israel was welcome to negotiate a new contract.
Questions over Cairo’s commitment to peace with Israel after the dramatic political changes in Egypt flared anew in the Israeli media, with one headline, in the popular Yedioth Ahronoth daily, reading: “They don’t want us”.
Egyptian politicians welcomed the move to end a deal heavily criticised even under Mubarak. Opposition media and the public accused his government of giving Israel preferential pricing and using the deal to benefit his allies.
Israeli officials say gas has not flowed from Egypt to Israel for most of this year due to a series of attacks on the pipeline running through Egypt’s volatile Sinai peninsula.
Israel has turned to more expensive fuel supplies and has warned residents to expect electricity outages this summer.
“We don’t see this cut-off of the gas as something that is born out of political developments,” Netanyahu told reporters. “It’s actually a business dispute between the Israeli company and the Egyptian company.”…Read More>>