UPDATE 6 pm: One hour and 20 minutes ago, at 4:42 pm, Qassam rockets fired by the Palestinian terrorists in Gaza struck near Ashkelon. At 4:33 pm, a Palestinian Qassam rocket exploded near Sha’ar Hanegev.
The handwriting was on the wall the minute President Obama and other Western leaders gleefully threw former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak under the bus 14 months ago. It was only a matter of time until Israel’s cold relationship with Egypt totally deteriorated.
Yesterday, Egypt’s East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) announced it was terminating its natural gas supply deal with Israel. To put the strategic importance of this decision in context, Israel generates 40% of its electricity from natural gas, and EMG supplies 43% of this 40%. The other 57% of this 40% comes from Israel’s Yam Thetis gas field located just off the coast.
In short, the termination is significant, but in reality, the pipeline has been shut down since February 5th following another terrorist explosion in the Sinai (the 14th since Mubarak was ousted). And in the coming year, other Israeli natural gas will come on line from newly discovered fields.
In this sense, the closure of the pipeline is primarily symbolic–and even though the gas deal was never technically a part of the peace treaty with Egypt–its closure brings Egypt one step closer to tearing up that peace treaty with Israel.
Nevertheless, echoing words of the Egyptian ambassador that the cut-off was “a financial, not political matter”, Israeli officials have been ludicrously scrambling today to describe the cut-off as a “commercial dispute.” PM Netanyahu commented this morning: “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.”
Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a presidential candidate in the upcoming May 23-24 election, lashed out at Israel this afternoon and congratulated “the government” for closing down the pipeline: “The Egyptian people do not want to export gas to Israel and the president must act according to their wishes.” Another presidential candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi chimed in: “I hope this decision is permanent in order for Egypt to better guard its national resources.”
Other candidates were quick to praise the Egyptian government. Amr Moussa, former head of the Arab League and former foreign minister (and noted Israel basher), said “stopping the gas supply is a natural step.”
Even more ominously, Mohammed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate–and the one most likely to win–lauded the turn-off as an “excellent decision”. Mursi, by the way, launched his “Islam is the Solution” campaign this week by declaring “We intend to make the Palestinian issue our main issue.”
At the same time that the natural gas deal has been abrogated by the Egyptians, there now happens to be the greatest number of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai since the peace treaty was signed.
Despite the fact that the terms of the peace treaty prohibit the militarization of the Sinai, Israel has permitted the entry of these soldiers supposedly in order to help root out terrorist cells that pose a threat to Israel and Egypt. One wonders how long it will be before they turn their sole attention to Israel–and not in a positive way.
How quickly the new Middle East is becoming the old Middle East.
As noted in yesterday’s blog, a list of vocabulary for Israel supporters to begin using is appended to today’s blog (and every blog for the next month).
1. Use ‘Judea and Samaria’ instead of ‘
the West Bank‘.
2. Use ‘Jewish community’ instead of ‘
3. Use ‘construction of Jewish homes, schools, and hospitals’ instead of ‘
4. Use ‘new Jewish communities’ instead of ‘
5. Use ‘Jewish community member’ instead of ‘
6. Use ‘conservative politicians’ instead of ‘
7. Use ‘PLO’ or ‘Palestine Liberation Organization’ instead of ‘
8. Use ‘Palestinian Islamic Terrorist Organization–HAMAS’ instead of merely ‘
9. Use ‘Israeli men, women, and children’ instead of ‘
10. Use ‘Palestinian cities’ instead of ‘
Palestinian refugee camps‘.
11. Use Palestinian ‘settlements’ instead of Palestinian
‘villages’ or ‘hamlets’.
12. Use Palestinian ‘settlers’ instead of Palestinian
‘farmers’ and ‘villagers’.
13. Use international ‘lawbreakers’ instead of international
14. Use ‘the suicide bomber prevention fence instead of the
‘separation fence’ or ‘wall’.