EGYPT: Keep our gas away from Israel!
A number of opposition MPs and independent activists have recently launched a campaign to pressure President Hosni Mubarak’s regime to stop exporting natural gas to Israel. Under the Slogan “No to the Gas Setback”, the opposition gave the government an ultimatum of 30 days to go back on a deal that obliges Egypt to provide Israel with gas for 15 years.
Under the contract, Egypt is committed to pump 1.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year into Israel. For the opposition, the deal is another blow similar to the “1967 setback” under which Israeli forces occupied Egypt’s Sinai, among other Arab territories. If the government does not heed the opposition’s call, campaigners are threatening to take to the streets.
"This is the time when the people should say ‘stop exporting Egypt’s natural gas to Israel and exploiting our natural resources,'" reads the campaign’s blog. “The exportation of gas to Israel is a violation of the nature of the Arab and the Egyptian citizens who gave up their lives to protect their land and resources and it is enough to say that Egypt offered 100,000 martyrs in its wars against Israel.”
A couple of months ago, the Egyptian-Israeli deal caused too much noise in Egypt after reports alleging that Egypt was selling its gas to the Jewish state at a much cheaper rate than the rate on the world market.
The deal’s opponents reportedly called for a march to the presidential palace next week. It remains to be seen if the march can happen, given the iron fist of Mubarak’s security apparatus. In the meantime, campaigners are exerting tremendous effort in cyberspace to get their message across. Besides their blog, they have created a Facebook site in an effort to get a million signatures on their statement.
— Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo
Photo: Egyptian Oil Minister Sameh Fahmi and the Israeli Minister of Infrastructure Binyamin Ben Eliezer as posted on the campaign's blog.