Israel loses friends in East Asia


The state Egyptian natural gas company EGAS has cancelled gas supplies to Israel, acting thus in discordance to the 2005 political agreement signed between Egypt and Israel. Why is Egypt isolating Israel?

 Israel has lost a big quantity of gas supplies owe to that the East Mediterranean Gas just broke an agreement, made in 2005, regarding this issue. That year the EMG signed a deal with IEC –Israel Electric Corporation– of 2.500 million dollars (about 1.891 million Euros), in which Cairo promised to give 7.000 million cubic meter of Egyptian gas to the Israeli market, representing natural gas supply for 15 years, with changes accepted.

The news on this split-up gas supply has dropped as a bomb on Israeli news agencies. Several Israeli analysts consider that this cut of energy supply is due to an Egyptian political and economic instability.

Some Israeli politicians express a “defensive” point of view with the purpose of calming the world’s audience, fearing of further disputes between the two countries: “The unilateral cancellation of the agreement is not a good sign. And we hope that this dispute is resolved like any other commercial disputes, without having a political consequences” said the Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman during his visit in Azerbaijan. This argument is echoed by Israeli prime minister, who states that this is a commercial matter, as well as by the chairman of Egyptian company EGAS, Mohamed Shoeib: “It is a trade dispute not a political issue”. But how can we know that this issue is kept only under commercial terms?

There have been numerous sabotages and attacks, more precisely 14, in the last year. Attacks directed at the pipelines from Egypt to Israel by protest groups, which demonstrated against a supposed Israeli “political marginalization”. The head of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company mentioned that the contract terminated hence Israel’s violations of contractual obligations, a statement considered as an overshadow of the peace agreement between the two countries. Security means had to be reinforced as a consequence of the conflict emerged between the two nations.

Until now, Israel has made great profit of energetic agreements made with Egypt; the country received a 40% of their energy consumption for their own use. During almost 7 years, since the natural gas deal, Israel made a great profit from Egypt’s energetic supplies. This period of time coincides with the Mubarak era. But since last Thursday, the 19th of April 2012, the 15-years planned pact broke in a brusque way.

This concern mainly implies peaceful principles withIsraelthat have been ignored. The 2005 signed agreement acted as a symbol of Egyptian-Israeli good relations, which is of great relevancy bearing in mind that Egypt is the only country, together with Jordan, that has signed a peace treaty with Israel (in 1979, followed by Jordan in 1994). Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz declared that the suspension of energetic supply was of “great concern”, arguing that it had placed “a dangerous precedent which casts a shadow on the peace agreements and the peaceful atmosphere betweenEgyptandIsrael”.

Israelis losing friends inEast Asia. Since the 1950s,Israel’s foreign policy had received strategic depth from regional alliances. The Egyptian cut on energetic supply will entail thatIsraelfinds it difficult to find countries to rely on in this region. Last year, Israel watched its alliance with Turkey collapse. Diplomatic relations with theUnited Statesare too weak andAmericais far away in geographical terms, which entails bad cooperation techniques in this manner. From now on, it will be hard for Israel to trust an Egyptian government currently damaged by internal conflicts. The evaporation of power of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s government, which is in a way definitely a positive change, leaves Israel in a state of strategic trouble. WithoutMubarak,Israelis left with almost no friends in theMiddle East.

But, as Sancho Panza says in the Chapter X of the Second Part of “Don Quijote de la Mancha”, “there is a solution for everything, if not death, under whose yoke we will lie all at the end of our lives”; and there is also prompted alternative for Israel’s alliances in East Asia: “From the Egypt’s point of view there are no objections to reaching a new agreement with new conditions and a new price”, as the Minister for International Cooperation Fayza Abul Naga told reporters.

Angela Gutierres Moreno,
Danira Milosevic,
Linn Andersson &
Jesus Alcantara Landa

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