Wednesday, June 18, 2008

EGYPT: Govt Forced to Bend on Israel Gas Deal

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Jun 18 (IPS) - In the last two months, popular and parliamentary opposition to the sale of Egyptian natural gas to Israel -- at undisclosed prices -- has mounted. As a result, in a rare nod to public opinion, the government recently announced it was "revising" the terms of the sale agreement.

"The government was finally embarrassed into partially addressing our concerns," Mohammed Anwar al-Sadat, former MP and spokesman for the recently founded Popular Campaign against Gas Exports told IPS.

The full-scale export of Egyptian natural gas to Israel officially began on May 1. A 2005 agreement between Egypt and Israel allows the Cairo-based East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), a joint venture between Egyptian and Israeli businessmen, to sell approximately 1.5 billion cubic metres of Egyptian natural gas annually to the Israel Electric Corporation for a period of 15 years.......

Next week, campaigners are planning to hold a protest march in front of Cairo's administrative court. The same day, Jun. 24, will also feature the opening session of a court case -- raised by a former assistant foreign minister -- against the government's endorsement of the sale.

Campaign organisers are now trying to collect one million signatures for a petition against all Egyptian natural gas exports. "When we achieve this, we'll march to the presidential palace in Cairo and present our petition directly to the President," said al-Sadat."

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