Egypt is willing to negotiate a new agreement, with new terms, for supplying natural gas to Israel, Egypt’s Planning and International Cooperation Minister Fayza Aboulnaga said Monday.
According to the minister, Egyptian parties to the current agreement notified East Mediterranean Gas Co. — which transports the gas to Israel — five times about past-due amounts before deciding to end the agreement on Sunday.
Egypt “is willing to renegotiate the deal, though it would be under a new contract, with new terms and prices,” Aboulnaga said. She did not say how much money was past due.
Former Arab League chief and presidential hopeful Amr Moussa told the state-run Al-Ahram media outlet that severing the agreement between Israel and Egypt was “a natural step in light of information relating to corruption which tarnished this deal.”
The Muslim Brotherhood’s official spokesperson Mahmoud Ghozlan called the move an “excellent decision” and said it had nothing to do with the peace treaty in place between the two countries.
Ampal-American Israel Corp., which owns 12.5 percent of EMG, said Sunday that it had been informed by EMG that Egyptian General Petroleum Corp. and the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co. were terminating the gas-supply agreement, Bloomberg News reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday, “We don’t see this cutoff of the gas as something that is born out of political developments. It’s actually a business dispute between the Israeli company and the Egyptian company.”
Netanyahu added that Israel has the reserves of gas “to make Israel totally energy independent, not only from Egypt but from any other source, and to have Israel become one of the world’s large exporters of natural gas.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday morning he hoped the support shown by presidential candidates in Egypt for canceling the gas pipeline deal with Israel was motivated by electioneering rather than a desire to end the peace treaty.
“We want to believe that all the recent announcements are part of the election campaign and afterwards things will return to normal,” Lieberman said in an interview on Army Radio. “We will wait another month and a half, until after the elections, and see if things return to normal.”
The foreign minister also said he believed that the cause of the current dispute over Egyptian gas supplies to Israel was commercial in nature and not part of a wider political split between the two countries.
“To make this into a political dispute would be a mistake,” Lieberman said. “The peace treaty is important to Israel and no less so to Egypt.”