“Egypt is not legally obligated to export gas to Israel, nor is it committed to any financial penalties in case of interruption or discontinuation of gas exports to Israel,” said Joseph Paritzky, Israel’s former Energy and Infrastructure minister.
He highlighted that the former Egyptian minister of petroleum Eng. Sameh Fahmy, who is currently detained over the gas deal with Israel, was keen on avoiding any direct sale of the Egyptian gas to Israel, since the beginning of their mutual negotiations in 2004. In fact, the natural gas exportation has been held by the Eastern Mediterranean Gas (EMG) Company, which is the owner and operator of the Arish-Ashkelon Pipeline. Egypt Natural Gas Co, Thailand’s PTT, Israel’s Merhav Group, Ampal-American Israel Corp and American businessman Sam Zell, chairman of EGI, who also represents shares that were sold by Egyptian businessman Hussain Salem in 2008.
The former Israeli minister added, “the Egyptian government has no liability and Israel has to deal with this company (EMG).”
According to the Israeli Energy News Agency, Paritzky refused to sign the natural gas agreement between Egypt and Israel, noting that deliberations on the subject have been going since 2003. Paritzky further elaborates that his refusal to sign the agreement led to a major disagreement with the previous Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, which culminated in Paritzky’s redundancy. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer assumed Paritzky’s position and concluded the agreement with Egypt.
Paritzky justified his refusal to the deal asserting that such agreement will be “short-lived”, despite being a 20-year contract. He stated that Egypt has neither provided sufficient guarantees to ensure the steadiness of gas supply to Israel, nor a coherent plan to hinder the possibility of vandalism and attacks on the infrastructure, which occurred six times since the beginning of 2011.
He also declared that Egyptian supply has never been steady, even before the revolution.