CAIRO (AP) — The head of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company said Sunday it has terminated its contract to ship gas to Israel because of violations of contractual obligations, a decision Israel said overshadows the peace agreement between the two countries.It is interesting that some Americans and Israelis seem to have a very broad understanding of Egypt's obligations under its peace treaty. I've seen Egypt's participation in the siege on Gaza described as compliance with its peace treaty, though I'm certain there is no term in the treaty ratified in 1979 that mandates Egypt's behavior in this siege that intensified in 2006. There is a good chance that in secret, Mubarak has reached other later agreements with Israel, but a future democratically accountable Egyptian government will not be bound by those. It is also interesting that Israel insists the price of the gas is fair, but refuses to say what that supposedly fair price is. Of course this refusal makes its vehement assertions of its fairness doubtful.
Israel insists it is paying a fair price for the gas. Israel's electricity company has been warning of possible power shortages this summer, partly because of the unreliability of the natural gas supply from Egypt.We are still not seeing the behavior of an independent Egypt that is accountable to the people it governs. Egypt's relationship with Israel will certainly be a campaign issue in the presidential elections that are coming this summer. Possibly the Obama administration may succeed in directing the current pro-US dictatorship to keep its commitment to prevent foreign policy from coming under popular control after any partial transfer of power. But if the Obama administration fails, which seems very possible, then an Egypt that does not respect Mubarak's corrupt secret agreements with Israel on the gas issue and probably many other issues will mark a drastic change in Israel's relationship with its region.
Under the 2005 deal, the Cairo-based East Mediterranean Gas Co. sells 1.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas to the Israeli company at a price critics say is set at $1.50 per million British thermal units — a measure of energy.