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Cutting our gas to Israel won't lead to war: Egypt military official

Terminating the controversial sale of cut-price gas to Israel will not stoke a war between Cairo and Tel Aviv, Major General El-Mahdy tells TV channel

Ahram Online, Monday 23 Apr 2012
gas deal protests
Demonstrations in Cairo's downtown against gas export deal to Israel (File photos: AFP)
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Egypt's decision to terminate its gas supply deal with Israel will not develop into a war between the two countries, a leading Egyptian military figure linked to the ruling junta has said, explaining that disputes of this nature cannot be solved with military force.

On Sunday night reports emerged that Egypt is unilaterally terminating its 2005 natural gas export contract with Israel -- a deeply unpopular Mubarak-era deal which sold Egyptian resources to the self-proclaimed Jewish state at vastly-discounted rates.
 
Speaking to Al-Balad Al-Youm, a programme on Egypt's Sada Al-Balad television channel, Major General Tariq El-Mahdy, former head of Egypt's Air Defence Forces and current governor of Egypt's New Valley region, talked about the decision.
 
"We should understand that there is no relation between the Camp David Accords and the gas deal with Israel," El-Mahdy said.
 
"Decisions over war and peace can't be taken simply -- the slogan of Egypt's army is to be ready for war as if it will happen tomorrow."
 
The general described Egypt's decision to scrap the Israeli deal as "a step on the right track" and "an indication that nothing is impossible."
 
He added, without elaborating, that the abolition of the deal will also help the Egyptian government trim its economic losses, especially given the frequent sabotage attacks on the Sinai pipeline which transports the gas.
 
El-Mahdy also suggested the change would help solve problems in extending gas pipelines to Upper Egypt and raise the morale of Egyptians, giving them more dignity.
 
A leading campaigner against the supply of gas to Israel, however, suggested that the action was long overdue and should have been done for moral, and not supposedly fiancial, reasons.
 
"The crime of gas exports has become even uglier and the army will not bear it after the crises in butane gas and bread," Ibrahim Yosri, former ambassador to Algeria and co-ordinator of the campaign 'No to Gas Sales to the Zionist Entity', told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language portal.
 
"If they had completely cancelled the agreement then it could have helped save the struggling reputation of the ruling military."
 
Yosri, who had previously started legal action to suspend the supply, said the reason for the stoppage was financial, referring to non-payment of dues since 2010. He said this only added "horror" to the "crime of exporting."
 
On his Twitter account he claimed that supplying gas to Israel at its former, cut-price rate was equivalent  to "donating $10 million per day to Israel," adding that such a "donation" was even more "hideous and intolerable" due to Egypt's economic problems.
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