Egypt cancels gas agreement with Israel
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Egypt cancels gas agreement with Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Egypt canceled its natural gas agreement with Israel, reportedly abrogating the original Egypt-Israel peace treaty of 1979.

The unilateral announcement was made Sunday by Egypt’s national gas company EGAS, according to The Marker, an Israeli business daily.

The 2005 deal between the governments of Israel and Egypt promised that Cairo would allocate 7 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Israel for 20 years, with an option to double the amount.

The 1979 peace treaty had required Egypt to supply Israel with oil; it was later amended to natural gas.

"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," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday. "But alongside that I have to say that we have, as I said, the reserves of gas to make Israel totally energy independent, not only from Egypt but from any other source, and have Israel become one of the world’s large exporters of natural gas. So we’re quite confident on that score."

Egypt’s pipeline in the Sinai supplying natural gas to Israel was attacked earlier this month for the 14th time since uprisings began in February 2011 against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was deposed. No arrests have been made in any of the attacks.

The supply of gas to Israel has been halted numerous times in the last year, leading to a scramble to find alternate fuel sources to produce electricity that are more expensive.

Egypt supplied Israel with more than 40 percent of its natural gas needs to produce electricity; electricity prices have risen by more than 20 percent in Israel since the attacks began.