JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel reportedly has agreed to allow more Egyptian troops into the Sinai, which under a 1979 peace treaty is to remain demilitarized.
About 700 troops reportedly have been moved into the Sinai in recent days, joining the 800 that were sent in at the end of January, also with Israel’s permission. The deployment is temporary, according to reports.
The troops are necessary to quell riots by Sinai Bedouin, and to protect a gas pipeline that serves Israel and Jordan that was attacked twice since the popular uprising in Egypt began.
Meanwhile, Egypt has delayed restarting the supply of gas to Israel following a Feb. 5 explosion in the pipeline. An investigation showed that the explosion was terror related.
The Egyptian Gas Company said Wednesday, the day before the gas was scheduled to begin flowing, that it would delay the flow until later in the month.
An Egyptian court order that had been ignored by deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak also ordered a halt to the gas deliveries until the deal is reworked to allow Egypt to make more money. Egypt supplies Israel with about 20 percent of its natural gas needs.
About half of Israel’s electricity comes from natural gas from 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.