Tensions Flare As Egypt Cuts Off Gas Deal With Israel [View all]
Israeli officials have sought to downplay the political repercussions of Egypt's abrupt decision to cancel a 20-year gas-supply contract over a payment dispute amid deteriorating ties between the two countries.
The gas deal, signed in 2005, has emerged as a focus for public ire in Egypt. Once seen as a vehicle for corruption under Hosni Mubarak, the ousted Egyptian leader, it is now viewed as a hated symbol of the previous regime's close ties with the Jewish state.
Israeli officials initially reacted angrily to the Egyptian decision, calling it a "dangerous precedent" that could endanger the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries. But yesterday, Israel back-pedalled on its criticism of Cairo, painting the dispute as purely commercial in nature.
"We don't see this cut-off of the gas as something that is born out of political developments," the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said. "It's actually a business dispute between the Israeli company and the Egyptian company."