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Egypt delays reopening gas pipeline to Israel

WASHINGTON — Egypt's military regime is hesitating to restore natural gas to Israel, a report said.


The Washington Institute for Near East Policy said Egypt has been delaying the renewal of gas supplies to Israel, Middle East Newsline reported. In a report, the institute said the suspension of gas continued despite repeated Egyptian pledges to Israel that the pipeline would resume operations imminently.

"The Supreme Military Council under Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi is making a quiet effort to reassure Israel that Cairo's policy toward it has not changed, and that Egypt still regards bilateral peace as a major strategic asset," the report, authored by Israeli analyst Ehud Yaari, said.

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"At the same time, however, the army's high command seems reluctant to resume gas exports to Israel for fear of public reaction."

The gas pipeline, which also supplies Jordan and Syria, was damaged in a bombing on Feb. 5. The Egyptian-Israeli supplier of the gas to the Jewish state has twice delayed the starting date of renewed operations but the Israeli media reported the resumption of the pipeline on March 16.

"At this point, the hesitancy is political in nature, not a function of technical difficulties," the report, titled "The Arab Revolutions: An Israeli Perspective, said.

The report said Egypt's ruling council was concerned over an investigation into allegations that the former regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak was bribed to approve the gas sale to Israel. One suspect was Mubarak's friend, Hussein Salem, who fled Egypt for the Gulf in February.

"The longer this suspension continues, the more difficulty Cairo will have announcing a resumption in sales," the report said. "The latest word from the new government is that the gas supply will resume soon but prices will be renegotiated."

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