Egypt resumes supplying gas to Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Egypt resumed supplying Israel with natural gas after a six-week interruption.

The gas flow resumed late Tuesday night after a fifth delay on Monday. The break in supply came after a gas line was sabotaged on Feb. 5 during the uprising in Egypt that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

A leak was discovered shortly before the gas supply was set to resume Monday, the Ampal-American Israel Corp said in a statement.

Egypt supplies more than 40 percent of the gas that Israel needs to provide the country with electricity. The supplies had been expected to resume last month. It is not clear if Israel will now receive gas in the same quantities as previously.

The Israel Electric Company earlier this month received permission from Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry to use diesel and fuel oil to run power plants in the absence of the natural gas.

Some Israeli media have accused the Egyptian interim military government authorities of delaying the supply of gas to Israel for political reasons.

Egypt has suggested that it will not supply the usual amounts of gas when the pipeline is up and running again, according to reports, and wants to renegotiate better terms for its contract with Israel for supplying natural gas. 

U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), a leading Jewish Democrat, praised Egypt for renewing the gas.

"I deeply appreciate this very important decision by the Egyptian government, a decision that we should honestly acknowledge will not be welcome by many Egyptians," Ackerman said. "Nevertheless, Egypt’s wise decision to accept its contractual obligation is a very welcome development, and an important sign that Egypt will continue to adhere to its international commitments; commitments that have served and protected Egypt’s own vital national interests."

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