Westerwelle, Germany’s foreign minister, says he expects Cairo to avoid elevating gas crisis to political level.
BEDUIN man looks at a gas pipeline in Sinai – Photo: REUTERS
Westerwelle said that he expects the relevant parties in Egypt to take a clear stance on peace and to not let the gas issue reach a political level.
Egypt on Sunday terminated a long-term gas deal with Israel, prompting a diplomatic spate between the two countries. Israeli political leaders were quick to condemn to the move, but Egyptian officials said Cairo’s decision was not rooted in political disagreements, but rather was part of a commercial dispute between the companies and Egyptian government corporations that is presently being adjudicated abroad.
On Monday, Prime Ministery Binyamin Netanyahu downplayed the political significance of the Egyptian move. “We don’t see this gas cutoff as something that is born out of political developments,” he told a group of Israel Bonds leaders on Monday. “This is actually a business dispute between the Israeli company and the Egyptian company.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman also weighed in on the issue, saying Monday that he hoped the dispute could be solved like any business dispute, Israel Radio reported. Israel has every desire to uphold the peace accords with Egypt, the foreign minister said. Egyptians share that interest, he added.
The effects of the gas dispute could also have limited impact on Israel’s energy security. “I think this formalizes a situation which has already existed for a year,” Prof. Eytan Sheshinski, of the Hebrew University’s economics department, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “Israel is already adjusted to doing without the Egyptian gas.”
Saboteurs have blown up the Sinai gas pipeline that brings natural gas from Egypt to both Israel and Jordan – as well as Lebanon and Syria via Jordan – 14 times since February 2011. This has caused the supplies to be inconsistent throughout the recent past, flowing on and off and delivering only very small quantities of the product during the time, Sheshinski explained.