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Canceling Out The ‘Background Noise’ On Egypt-Israel Relations


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.

Wolf says foreign lobbying bill not ‘for just discussion purposes’


Politico.com

By Dave Levinthal and Anna Palmer with Abby Phillip

April 25th, 2012

PI INTERVIEW … WOLF SAYS FOREIGN LOBBYING BILL NOT ‘FOR JUST DISCUSSION PURPOSES’: If Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has his legislative way, a slew of top government officials — congress members, high-ranking executive branch and military members, ambassadors and CIA foreign station chiefs, among them — would face 10-year bans on lobbying for a foreign government. And the 16-term congressman tells PI that his newly filed bill to do just that isn’t a matter of political vanity. “I will use every method we possibly can to get this done. I am very serious about this,” said Wolf, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee. “It is not put in for just discussion purposes.”

Dubbed the Foreign Lobbying Reform Act, H.R. 4343 is Wolf’s latest attempt to curb the relatively limited, but hardly unheard of practice of ex-U.S. officials lobbying on behalf of foreign governments, with recent examples including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Wolf, who in 2007 proposed a five-year ban, says he’s particularly concerned with undemocratic foreign governments purchasing the services of influential ex-politicos. “The more evil they are, the more despicable they are or against the United States government they are, they more they pay, the more they need the help,” Wolf said, adding he doesn’t consider his bill a partisan matter. “It’s totally bipartisan … nonpartisan,” he said. “I don’t think what we have here is a partisan problem. It’s just a problem, period.”

In a related matter, Wolf today sent a letter to Sidley Austin Partner Carter Phillips asking that it reconsider its representation of Chinese telecom firm Huawei by a former member of Congress, citing its ties to the Chinese military. Although the letter doesn’t name him, former Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) is the congressman in question, Wolf’s office says. Read the letter here: http://bit.ly/Ja4hoo. Boucher told PI he has not seen the letter yet and doesn’t want to comment until he’s read it.

Egypt detains former PM Obeid for illegal land deal


Reuters

Thu Jul 14, 2011 7:25pm GMT

CAIRO, July 14 (Reuters) – Egyptian authorities detained former prime minister Atef Obeid for 15 days to investigate allegations he illegally sold land well below market value, judicial sources said on Thursday.

Since a popular uprising toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February, Egyptian prosecutors have been investigating corruption allegations made against former officials and businessmen connected with his 30 years in power.

Judge Ahmed Edrees, commissioned by the Justice Ministry to investigate corruption in the agriculture ministry, accused Obeid and Youssef Wali, former deputy prime minister, of illegally selling land in Luxor in the south of Egypt.

The pair are charged with selling the plot to businessman Hussein Salem, a close confidant to Mubarak, for 8 million Egyptian pounds ($1.3 million) when the value of the land was 208 million pounds.

The land was also sold illegally because it is a protected nature reserve, Edrees said… Read More.

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