Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is facing the grim prospect of witnessing the 33-year-old Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement unravel as the rise of radical Islamic political parties in Cairo and unchecked Bedouin terrorist activities across the Sinai Peninsula – which have included sabotaging a gas pipeline to Israel – threaten to create a new political and military crisis between the two countries and throughout the Middle East.
Netanyahu attempted to put on a brave face to the media earlier this week after yet another in a series of gas-supply cutoffs from the Sinai pipeline to Israel. He said, “We don’t see the cutoff of gas as something that arose from political developments, but rather a business dispute between the Israeli and Egyptian partners in the gas company.”
For its part, Egyptian television showed a rising Islamic politician boasting to raucous supporters that both the bombing of the pipeline and the cutoff of gas supplies to Israel will eventually be permanent, and should be considered a “blessed event.”
Though Netanyahu has said the new Noble/Delek Energy offshore Tamar and Leviathan gas platforms will transform Israel into an exporter of surplus gas to overseas markets within two years, Israel’s Defense and National Infrastructures ministries are dealing with a series of immediate challenges due to tensions with Egypt.
Several Israeli power stations that relied on Egyptian gas supplies have been forced to import large amounts of environmentally unfriendly coal and diesel fuel in order to keep their stations functioning at normal capacity. And Minister of National Infrastructures Uzi Landau is on the verge of importing large mobile turbines to supplement IEC’s power capabilities during peak summer days. His goal is to avoid potentially costly blackouts.Steve K. Walz