EGYPT: Gas to Israel ignites criticism


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An Egyptian newspaper columnist has accused his government of selling natural gas to Israel at cut-rate prices. It’s the kind of accusation here that riles passions from alley markets to the halls of parliament.

Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979, but even a hint of preferential treatment toward Israel throws many Egyptians in a fury.


Earlier this month, Magdy El-Gallad wrote in the independent daily Al Masry al Youm that the Egyptian government exports gas to Israel for $1.50 per million British thermal units, whereas the real cost of production is estimated at $2.65.

‘This shows clearly that our government uses Egyptian money to subsidize the gas for the Israeli citizen,’ El-Gallad wrote.

Since then, the issue has been the subject of investigation by the press. In a parliamentary session, Arab nationalist Hamdeen Sabay reportedly chided the Egyptian oil minister, asking him to comment on the column. The government has asked for more time to respond.

In 2005, Egypt and Israel singed a gas deal in Cairo, whereby Egypt undertook the commitment to provide Israel with 1.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year. When signed, the agreement elicited public outrage and reignited sensitivities about the normalization of relations with Israel.

— Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo