Dr. Guy Bechor: Egypt has not breached the peace treaty

"Israel is being hysterical. War? They haven't money for bread."

The unilateral cancellation of the gas agreement between Egypt and EMG (which supplies Israel) does not represent a breach of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, and Israel should not be drawn into reacting or into intemperate declarations liable to worsen the fragile state of relations between the two countries. So argues Dr. Guy Bechor, who heads the Middle East Division at the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.

Bechor: "There is no breach of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel here. Under the agreement, Egypt was supposed to sell oil and energy to Israel, and it did so, but that obligation ended ten years ago.

"This is solely a commercial-economic matter, not a political matter. EMG, the gas supplier, has not paid the Egyptian government for several months. There is no decision to halt gas supplies for political reasons. The Egyptian government has made a great deal of money from the agreement, and it needs this money because it is in desperate financial straits, and facing bankruptcy of the country."

If it's a vital economic matter, why does the Egyptian army not stop the sabotage of the pipeline by the Bedouin?

"Their control is limited, and the Egyptian army has its hands full keeping the country going and running it. The results are as we see."

Will the Egyptians continue to honor the peace treaty?

"Certainly, and they say as much. Even the Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood don't say otherwise. What we have here is typical Israeli hysteria, stemming from lack of understanding of the reality of the situation. And that is very bad. We are getting raucous responses when relations between the two countries are very delicate."

Do your refer to Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman, who was reported in "Maariv" as calling for reinforcement of the south, and saying that Egypt was more worrying than Iran?

"I refer to overreactions from all directions. People need to calm down. The quiet military and political relations with Egypt are very good, perhaps even better than in Mubarak's time. You saw the Ilan Grapel affair, the intermediary role in the Gilad Shalit deal, the ceasefire agreement in Gaza, and perhaps Uda Tarabin will be freed within a few days. God Almighty, how paranoid can you get?"

So the fears of war with Egypt are groundless

"The Egyptians have no interest in going to war against Israel. They don't have money to buy wheat for the masses. What are we talking about here? Not everything between Israel and Egypt has to be turned into a drama."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 23, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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