Egypt cancels gas supply deal with Israel

What the cancellation tells us is that agreements Israel makes with Arab countries are a function of time. If Arabs can’t be expected to honor their side of an agreement they make with Israel, there is no point to Israel giving up valuable real estate for paper that is not even worth the signatures placed upon them.-IA

Egypt on Sunday unilaterally canceled its agreement to supply Israel with natural gas, in what appeared to be a grave indication of the deteriorating relations between the countries.

Cairo communicated its decision to the Israeli government on Sunday afternoon, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported. The news report described the decision as an abrogation of part of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, with profound economic and diplomatic implications.

Although the gas pipeline from Egypt to Israel has been sabotaged about a dozen times in the past year, and the agreement to supply gas has been widely criticized by many of the candidates seeking election in next month’s Egyptian presidential vote, the formal decision to abrogate the deal was not expected by Israel.

The original Egypt-Israel peace treaty, signed in 1979, provided for Egypt to supply Israel with oil. As Egypt’s capacity to do so dwindled, the relevant clause was amended to apply to natural gas. Sunday’s decision represented a unilateral abrogation of an element of the overall treaty, Channel 2 reported, and thus highly significant with respect to Israeli-Egyptian ties.

Egyptian-Israeli relations have been in the spotlight ever since the collapse of president Hosni Mubarak’s regime at the start of 2011. Relations with Israel in general, and the gas supply deal in particular, have been criticized at mass protests and by would-be presidents alike.

Frictions between the two countries have been evidenced by recriminations over instability in the Egyptian-controlled Sinai peninsula. Last August, Gaza-based terror groups infiltrated into Israel and killed eight Israelis; several Egyptian security personnel were also killed in the incident in unclear circumstances. Israel’s embassy in Cairo was subsequently stormed in mass protests at which Israel was accused of spilling Egyptian blood.

Earlier this month, a rocket fired from Sinai hit the Israeli resort town of Eilat. And just this weekend, Israel’s counter-terrorism bureau warned Israelis against vacationing in the Sinai, and urged those Israelis already there to come home, citing information on plans for kidnappings and terrorist attacks on Israelis there. Egyptian officials immediately responded that the Israeli fears were unfounded, and that Israeli officials were seeking to harm the Egyptian tourism industry.


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