Agencies) – The decision by the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) to
stop selling gas to Israel marks a new beginning in Egyptian-Israeli relations.
Although downplayed by both sides as commercial dispute, it does raise
questions about the 1978 Camp David Accords, which the establishment in both
Egypt and Israel considered untouchable.
In the meantime,
to mark the day Egypt regained control of the Sinai peninsula from Israel in
1982, a group of protesters pledged they would cover a memorial to Israelis
killed in the war with an Egyptian flag bearing the words, ‘Sinai – the
The gesture will
be one of the most public expressions of anger among ordinary Egyptians who
have to cope with economic and energy crises after having to accept Mubarak’s
economic agreements with Israel changed,” said Nagui Damian, a young Coptic
leader of the Jasmine Revolution. “They protected the political interests of
the Mubarak government and never took into account the situation of poor Egyptian
longer want the government to sell out national resources to a country accused
of serious human rights violations against the Palestinians.
Despite the climate
of tensions, neither side wants a breakdown in relations between the two states
and a cancellation of agreements that have guaranteed peace for more than 30
years in the region and access to US economic aid.
Even the Muslim
Brotherhood, which has always opposed relations with Israel, calls only for
changes to the economic agreements in order to make them fairer, give Egyptians
greater dignity and increase security in the Sinai Peninsula.
al-Haddad, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee of Egypt’s largest
party, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party’s (FJP), told Israeli daily Haaretz that concerns over security are
growing in the desert peninsula. Criminal gangs have blown up the gas pipeline that
delivered gas to Israel 14 times in recent months. They have also attacked
have appealed to the Egyptian parliament to deploy more troops to the peninsula,
accusing the government of failing to take them into account in its security
The “peace deal
with Israel isn’t [in the] constitution, it’s just an agreement that can be
changed,” Haddad said. Egypt, he insisted, has the right to increase the
size of its security forces on its territory where it should exercise full sovereignty.
Equally, he also complained that Israelis were allowed into that area of Egypt
without a visa.
foreign tourists visit the Sinai every year, playing an important role in Egypt’s
the presence of the Egyptian military it will be impossible to maintain a
routine life,” Haddad explained.
is about responding to public sentiment and public sentiment has little
interest in maintaining a real relationship with Israel,” said Shadi Hamid
of the Brookings Doha Center.
In view of the
situation, Egypt should follow Turkey’s example, which cut back its relations
with Israel without breaking them after the Mavi Marmara affair. At the same, anti-Israeli
sentiments are not likely to go beyond anti-Israel bluster and symbolic gestures.
In fact, even
the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the main party in the Egyptian parliament, needs
Western backing and is concerned that Islamic extremism in the Sinai could lead
to violent acts.
fall, a group called the Revolutionaries of Sinai had wanted the Dayan Rock
memorial destroyed, but now said covering it in a flag would suffice.