CAIRO: Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court held the first session of its hearing on whether to ban the export of gas to Israel Saturday and scheduled the next hearing for Nov. 7.
This is the final stage of the court process that saw the administrative court issue a ruling to ban gas exports to Israel in Nov. 2008, which was later overturned by the Inspection Cassation Circuit.
The current phase of the appellate process is hearing the case again in its entirety, instead of just ruling only on the initial verdict. The plaintiff is the Popular Campaign to Stop Gas Exports to Israel, spearheaded by former diplomat Ibrahim Yousri.
Yousri told Daily News Egypt Sunday, “We have court decisions in our favor and the government doesn’t enforce them. I hope that they do so this time if the ruling is in our favor.
Yousri had told the presiding judge Mohamed Al-Husseini that him and other members of the campaign had come under sever criticism for taking the government to court over this to which the judge responded that regardless of agreeing or disagreeing with the campaign, they were “honest citizens.
“That was kind of him to say and this language differs from the harsh treatment we were subjected to in the Inspection Cassation Circuit, Yousri said.
Al-Husseini had postponed the hearing in order for the state judicial authority to submit the original documentation for the case, warning that if they failed to do so the judges would depend on the copies submitted by the plaintiffs.
The gas deals with Israel were met with vehement local opposition, especially because of the initially favorable price. The Ministry of Petroleum sells the gas to the Eastern Mediterranean Group (EMG), which then sells the gas to Israel.
The initial gas deal came about after a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Egypt and Israel in 2005. The contract was initially for 15 years guaranteeing a supply of 1.7 billion cubic meters a year at the price of $1.5 per million BTU (British Thermal Units).
In July a new gas deal was announced between EMG and the Israeli company Dorad Energy subject to an agreement that was initially struck in 2007.
The terms of the new deal were that EMG would supply around 12.5-16 billion cubic meters of gas to Dorad Energy over a period of 17-22 years at a cost of $2.1-3.3 billion, or around $4.5 per million BTU.