CAIRO: A campaign to put a stop to the exportation of Egyptian gas to Israel is seeking a motion of no confidence in Minister of Petroleum Sameh Fahmy in the People’s Assembly (PA).
The campaign has brought together figures from across the opposition spectrum in a committee that is currently formulating a plan of action against a contentious deal that will see Egypt exporting gas to Israel at favorable prices.
Independent MP Esmat El-Sadat, who along with his brother Talaat, is one of the founders of the committee, told Daily News Egypt, “We are working on our program to begin our campaign at this very moment.
Abdallah Helmy, assistant to El-Sadat, told Daily News Egypt, “A lot of people are getting on board this campaign, including many from the judiciary.
The campaign has adopted a multi-pronged approach in the executive, judicial and economic branches to achieve its objective.
“We will be calling for a questioning in the PA and a motion of no confidence in the minister, Helmy said.
“We want this proposed in the PA, should we look to sell gas to Israel in the first place? he added, “We want this to be voted on so it’s every MP’s responsibility, so that we and the people know who is with us and who is against us.
On the legal front, Helmy said, “there are court cases seeking to annul the deal.
The gas is being supplied by a Cairo-based Egyptian-Israeli consortium called East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), which includes Egyptian businessman Hussein Salem and the head of Israeli multinational Merhav, Yossi Maiman. EMG is the second largest supplier of gas to Israel, after the Yam Thetis consortium.
To the ire of many, the incorporation of Egyptian gas into the Israeli grid has coincided with the 60th anniversary celebrations of the creation of the state of Israel.
The committee driving the campaign is made up of writers, judges, intellectuals, MPs and energy experts.
The campaign is modelled on the recent popular uprising in Damietta against Agrium; a Canadian petrochemical plant deemed a health hazard by the residents.
Helmy said that the campaign will also be proposing an IPO for the creation of a public company responsible for Egypt’s gas with its shares being divided among the populace.
The gas is being exported to Israel under the proviso of a 2005 memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries.
A question on why Egypt is exporting gas to Israel for favorable prices went unanswered at the People’s Assembly (PA) in late March as government officials requested more time to prepare a response.
MP Sobhy Saleh, who is affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood and is one of the MPs requesting an investigation in the PA, told Daily News Egypt, “Exporting gas to Israel is a deviation on the part of the regime and government. The natural resources of the country belong to its people and they cannot be used without their approval.
He added that selling the gas to Israel in current circumstances was tantamount to “treason.
“Why is the gas not being exported at world prices? Saleh asked, “How can we subsidize the Zionist economy when we are facing such economic problems at home? The Egyptian economy is subsidizing Israeli citizens while gas prices are being raised at home.
Egyptian gas will supply a fifth of Israel’s electricity in the coming decade, according to the government-owned Israel Electricity Corp.
Initially, the Egyptian gas will supply power plants in the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Ashdod, enabling the state-owned company to increase its electricity production from natural gas, which currently stands at 20 percent, Reuters added.
The gas is being transported via a 100-km-long underwater pipeline from Al-Arish near the troubled Egypt-Gaza border to the Israeli port of Ashkelon. The source of the gas is a field in Northern Sinai.
“Fifty or 60 Egyptians have been killed in Rafah without any investigations into the circumstances surrounding their death, Saleh said, “is our blood now shed so easily for the Zionists? Not to mention the problem they created in Gaza and exported to Egypt.
“If we don’t get results in the assembly, we will submit a referendum to the people concerning the nature of the relationship with Israel, he added.