Gas pipe between Israel and Egypt
Photo: Reuters
Egypt says obligated to sell gas to Israel
President Mubarak's chief of staff responds to accusations Cairo selling gas to Jerusalem for discounted prices. 'Israel asked to purchase the Egyptian gas just like any other country, in accordance with the peace agreement and our conditions,' he says
The public discourse in Egypt on the export of natural gas to Israel continued last week. In a parliament session held Tuesday, several MPs slammed the government for its continued sale of gas to the Jewish state for reduced prices.


The discussion was held as reports stated that Egypt and Israel had signed a new agreement to update the prices.


Dr. Mufid Shihab, the Egyptian State minister for legal and parliamentary affairs, responded to the questions at the parliament. He stressed that his country was obligated to sell natural gas to Israel in accordance with the peace agreement signed between the two countries and ratified by the Egyptian parliament in 1979.


The minister added, however, that the peace agreement included no condition forcing the Egyptian government to sell gas and oil to Israel for a reduced price.


"It's Israel's right to try and purchase gas and oil which are required beyond the local consumption, if that is what has been confirmed by the People's Council (the Egyptian parliament) in 1979," the minister was quoted as saying.


'Experimental' sales

Dr. Zakaria Azmi, the chief of the presidential staff in Egypt, also addressed the issue, stressing that the sale of natural gas to Israel was carried out in accordance with the agreements between the two countries.


"Israel asked to buy the Egyptian gas just like any other country, in accordance with Egypt's conditions and in accordance with the peace process, and therefore there is no reason not to export the gas to Israel," he said.


Earlier, Egyptian Oil Minister Sameh Fahmi said that the sales of gas to Israel have so far been "experimental", and therefore all the talks about greater damage caused to the Egyptian economy were groundless.


Speaking at the parliament, the Egyptian minister confirmed Israeli reports that Israel and Egypt had signed a new pricing agreement for the Egyptian gas. Fahmi did not go into details, but claimed that the new agreement was "for the benefit of the Egyptian side."


Doron Peskin is head of research at Info-Prod Research (Middle East) Ltd.


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