Minnesota Public Radio

by Dana Farrington, National Public Radio

April 29th, 2012

By ending a historic gas contract with Israel, is Egypt laying the groundwork for a fundamental shift in relations? Not quite, says Rob Malley of the International Crisis Group.

Malley, program director for the Middle East and North Africa, talks to NPR’s David Greene on Weekend Edition about last week’s announcement, which raised questions of political rifts. Malley says:

“What we’re seeing right now is a lot of noise, but no real change, partly because — if not essentially because — both the Israelis and the Egyptian security establishment believe that the relationship is critical for both of them.”

Israel and Egypt signed the historic Camp David peace treaty in 1979, and The Associated Press reports:

“While relations have never been particularly warm, the quiet border has been critical for the security of the two neighbors. Egyptian energy exports to Israel and other business ties have helped keep the peace.”

NPR’s Sheera Frenkel reports for Weekend Edition that the gas deal was signed in 2005 and intended to last for at least 15 years. Reuters calls it “the most significant economic agreement to follow” the 1979 treaty and Jordan’s treaty with Israel in 1994.

Israel has been getting about 40 percent of its gas from Egypt, according to the AP, yet Egypt said last Sunday that it was ending the gas contract. Government spokespersons in both Israel and Egypt are trying to downplay the issue as a dispute between two companies rather than a threat to the peace treaty, Frenkel reportsRead more.