Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


For Israel, Gas to Come Less Naturally

How Egyptian regime change will squeeze Israeli energy

Print Email
A likely sabotaged Egyptian pipeline burns last month.(-/AFP/Getty Images)

“There are some things that would have to be thought about or renegotiated,” Professor Samer Shehata said more than a month ago, when Hosni Mubarak was still Egypt’s president, discussing the prospect of a more democratic government. He then mentioned something that, compared to the Camp David treaty and the Gaza blockade, gets little attention: “The sale of natural gas to Israel is complicated,” he noted. “Many Egyptians would be willing to sell gas to Israel if they believed they were selling gas at international prices, as opposed to in an opaque, murky economic transaction that people seem to be left in the dark about—where no one really knows what the arrangements really are and the assumption, for good reason, is that the sale of gas is at below-market prices.”

Sure enough, we have received tentative evidence that the sale of Egyptian natural gas to Israel was corrupt.

Earlier this week, a Kuwaiti paper reported that Mubarak’s two sons received hundreds of millions of dollars in commissions from the sale of natural gas to Israel—specifically, that each got a 2.5 percent cut of 2005’s 15-year, $2.5 billion deal with East Mediterranean Gas, of which one of the sons is the largest shareholder.

Haaretz noted that Egypt supplies 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas, which uses it to generate 20 percent of its electricity.

So what happens now that such revelations have appeared—reportedly, the Kuwaiti paper learned of these kickbacks from interior department documents that presumably became more available ever since Mubarak’s three-decade reign ended? And what happens if and when Egypt’s government grows more responsive to its people? Likely, Israel will need to pay more for Egyptian natural gas or get less of it. Already its supply is less secure, as evidenced by the blowing up of a pipeline in the Sinai in the midst of the unrest leading to Mubarak’s ouster.

Fortunately for Israel, it has recently made several massive offshore gas discoveries; less fortunately, some of those fields are disputed by Lebanon—a disagreement widely seen to be a likely future beginning to war. It is remarkable that not three months ago, Israel had no concern for its continued steady supply of Egyptian natural gas.

Report: Mubarak’s Sons Received Millions of Dollars for Backing Israeli Gas Sales [Haaretz]
Related: The Next Lebanon War [Tablet Magazine]
Israeli Natural Gas Field Is a Significant Find [JTA]
Earlier: Why Egypt Can Handle Democracy Now
How Egyptian Unrest Affects Israel’s Energy

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

For Israel, Gas to Come Less Naturally

How Egyptian regime change will squeeze Israeli energy

More on Tablet:

Blatt’s Cavs Cruise to NBA Finals

By Jonathan Zalman — LeBron and co. sip bubbly with a ‘flicka da wrist’ in an ice bath