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Sabotage Foreshadows Israel’s Energy Future

Pipeline explosion coincides with re-examination of Egyptian gas deal

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The bombed Egyptian pipeline.(-/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s not the most consequential thing to happen in Egypt this past week—that would be, rather, Egypt’s brokering of the Hamas-Fatah deal and general new openness to Hamas and Iran (and, what do you know?, the Islamic Republic appointed its first ambassador to Egypt in three decades last week). But there was yet another explosion at an Egyptian pipeline that supplies crucial natural gas to Israel and Jordan, which authorities said was an act of sabotage; they were tipped off by the fact that the explosion was caused by TNT—really.

This came in the midst of the Egyptian prosecutor’s questioning of former president Hosni Mubarak over energy exports to Israel. (Mubarak was moved to a hospital for heart problems earlier this week.) Reports have it that Mubarak’s two sons each received a 2.5 percent cut of Israel’s 15-year, $2.5 billion deal with Egypt’s East Mediterranean Gas, inked in 2005, which allegedly set cut-market rates; two former Egyptian ministers have been accused of costing Egypt nearly three-quarters of $1 billion in selling energy to Israel on the cheap. (Until recently, Egypt supplied as much as 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas.)

All the way back in early February, when Hosni Mubarak was still president (how time flies!), Egypt expert Samer Shehata told me, “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.” For their part, according to the New York Times, Israeli officials are okay with the new light being shed on the 2005 deal as long as the focus remains on the price of energy exports rather than the exporting of the energy itself, which at times has been controversial (including when Egypt kept the gas flowing during Operation Cast Lead). Reported the Times, “A senior Israeli official said, however, that if the investigation becomes a pretext for halting the deal for domestic political reasons, Israel would have reason for genuine concern.” Translation: That Leviathan field is sure going to come in handy!

Pipeline Blast in Sinai, Said to Be Sabotage, Cuts Gas Supply in Israel and Jordan [NYT]
Related: Mubarak Faces More Questioning on Gas Deal With Israel [NYT]
Earlier: For Israel, Gas to Come Less Naturally
How Egyptian Unrest Affects Israel’s Energy

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David Mozes says:

The gas pipe sabotage is far from inconsequential. When the impending war commences the attack will be recognized for what is. Nothing less than the intial southern front assault of the Arab world on the State of Israel.

Forest says:

The Egyptians have short memories. They have apparently forgotten that Israel gave them oil fields in Sinai. In short, one more in another series of broken Arab promises.

Alter says:

And the drumbeat goes on. It is perfectly okay to ignore the obvious bribery and smelly aspects of a deal which gives Israel one of Egypt’s natural resources at below market prices in exchange for a bribe paid to Mubarak and other corrupt officials. At the same time the Egyptians suffer for lack of the resource. So what does Israel expect? Congratulations from the Egyptian people? The deal for below market priced natural gas tinged as it was with bribery renders the transaction illegal and unenforceable. But we will hear much from Israel if the flow stops, about Egypt’s broken promise to deliver natural gas, and nothing of Israel’s unconscionable bribery paid to corrupt officials for getting below market prices. Israel outsmarted itself and the chickens will come home to roost on this one. Who is going to sympathize with the plea of a country which wishes to enforce a bargain made with corrupt officials, and supported by bribes, to plunder natural resources badly needed by people ruled by a corrupt government a neighboring country. Get real.

Consider for a moment a sale of water by Israel to a neighboring Arab country at below market prices at a time when that resource is particularly scarce, under circumstances where top Israeli government officials were paid a kickback as part of the deal. How many minutes would it take, following exposure of the bribery/kickback for Israel to abrogate the deal. Who believes that water badly needed by Israelis would continue to be sold to their neighboring Arabs in order to honor a corrupt bargain? Even shorn of the corrupt features?

Alter says:

Israel’s expectation that their corrupt bargain with corrupt Egyptian leaders should be performed is tantamount to Israel accepting billions of dollars in aid annually from an ally, let’s say the United States, turning a United States service man into a spy for Israel, obtaining a large roomful of the most sensitive secrets of the United States, and turning them over to the ally’s enemy—the Soviet Union—all to advance the emigration of Jews to Israel. And THEN seeking the release from the United States prison of that spy so that he can live the life of a hero in Israel!! It’s delusional!!

So too is it delusional to think that a democratic or other fair minded regime in Egypt will consider itself bound by a corrupt arrangement made with Israel and Egyptian leaders deposed because of their corruption.

I am a strong conservative Republican who is a very strong supporter of Israel. But Israel right or wrong is not good for Israel or the United States. The continued bribery of the United States Congress will work for only so long. The American people are growing weary of Israel’s seeming intransigence. Now is the time to make peace. The unification of Hamas and Fatah removes an obstacle. The claim that Fatah is an enemy does nothing to inform the issue. One makes peace with its enemies not its friends.

The Likud’s dream of a greater Israel is over. The world will not permit it.

President Obama is not beatable. The current crop of Republican candidates has too many cartoon characters. I disagree passionately with almost every one of Obama’s policies, but he will be in the White House until 2016 and during that time he will achieve a peace of sorts in the middle east. Israel is now in the best position to forge the best deal for itself. After the election Israel will be doomed. Though I am not a supporter of President Obama , it is a serious mistake to underestimate him. He intends to make peace in the middle east a notch in his belt and he will do it.

len says:

Do you read? First of all, none of those know the facts. So, you are assumiing a bribe. Assumiing! I don’t the facts but I have read that distance is a factor in the price; and with respect to Israel, the distant is miniscule; hence if true, then if that was taken into consideration, it is a reasonable business deal.

Make peace. That is what Chamberliin said. That is what the left said before the Stalin Hitler pact. These are empty words. Do you read? Do you what the fastest selling books are in the Arab world. No, you don’t. Mein Kempth. And the protocols of the Elders of Zion. Do you know what that is. Probably not. Anyway, Hamas makes it free of charge on their web site. Go read it. Why not make peace with Charles Manson and let go free.

Then you talk about Likud’s dream of greater ISrale. Did you forget manifest destiny of the US of which you are the beneficiary of. Israel started no wars–let alone wars of conquest. All the wars were started by the Arabs. Did you know that. And one of the consequences of starting a war and losing, are loss of territory. IT happenned in the US revolution. It happenned in the Mexican war. It happenned in WW! and WW2. Israel is the only country which was won wars in which they were attacked and willing to give up terriroty fairly won in war, But that is not sufficient for the arabs and people like yourself who apparantly have illiterate historically.

LEt us see now. Are you going to make an issue that China lays claims to Twiawan. Tibet.
The world is silent. IF course, China is too powerful. That is why you sound illiterate historically,.
Israel is willing to give up land for peace. But you can’t make peace when your opponents are likes of Charles MAnson.

All the repub possible candidates are carbon characters. The governors who are in running have track records. Are you aware of that. And they are good track records.

In summary, you have no idea of what you are talking about.

Alter says:

You apparently believe that the below market price is explainable by the “miniscule” distance to Israel (“distance is a factor in the price; and with respect to Israel, the distant is miniscule”). This may surprise you but the distance from Egypt to Egypt is even shorter.


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Sabotage Foreshadows Israel’s Energy Future

Pipeline explosion coincides with re-examination of Egyptian gas deal

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