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Egyptian natural gas to Israel cut off after explosion

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Natural gas supplies to Israel were cut off after an explosion in an Egyptian gas line in the Sinai Peninsula. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet at its regular Sunday meeting that Israel is prepared for "such situations" and he didn’t expect the explosion from the previous day to cause any disruption in power in the country.

The head of Egypt’s natural gas company said the explosion was caused by a gas leak; Egyptian state television said it was sabotage. An Egyptian security official said the blast was caused by an explosive charge detonated inside the terminal, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Gas supply also was cut off to Jordan, according to reports.

It will take a week for the pipeline to be repaired and for the flow of gas to be restored to Israel, according to reports.

"I believe that the shocks in our region underscore and reiterate that Israel is an island of stability in a turbulent area, and we will continue to do everything to ensure the security and vital interests of the State of Israel in the face of the major challenges yet before us as well," Netanyahu said at the Cabinet meeting.

About half of Israel’s electricity comes from natural gas from both Egyptian and Israeli sources. Egypt began pumping gas to Israel in 2008 as part of a 15-year contract. Prior to six years ago, all of Israel’s electricity was generated by imported coal and oil, according to The Jerusalem Post.

A large natural gas field discovered underground off the coast of Israel late last year will begin providing the natural resource sometime in 2012, according to reports.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Egypt’s main opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood, said it would hold talks with newly named Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman, but said it would not move forward with negotiations unless President Hosni Mubarak resigns. Smaller opposition parties have refused to meet until Mubarak ends his 30-year reign, according to reports.

Leaders of Egypt’s ruling party, the National Democratic Party, including Mubarak’s son Gamal, resigned from office Saturday, according to reports.

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