PM downplays Egyptian natural gas cutoff

Netanyahu says cutoff of Egyptian gas to Israel not born of political developments, but rather result of business dispute.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 370 (photo credit: Gali Tibbon/Pool)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 370
(photo credit: Gali Tibbon/Pool)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in his first comments about the cutoff of Egyptian gas to Israel, played it down Monday, saying it was the result of a commercial dispute.
"We don't see this gas cutoff as something that is born out of political developments," he told a group of Israel Bonds leaders on Monday. "This is actually a business dispute between the Israeli company and the Egyptian company."
With that, Netanyahu said, "I must say that we have gas reserves that will make Israel totally energy independent, not only from Egypt, but from any other source, and which will turn Israel into one of the world's largest exporters of natural gas. So we are quite confident on that score."
Earlier on Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that he hoped the dispute could be solved like any business dispute, Israel Radio reported.
Israel has every desire to uphold the peace accords with Egypt, the foreign minister said. Egyptians share that interest, he added.
"We're following what's happening in Egypt and hope that everything will work out for the best," Liberman told Israel Radio.
Labor MK Isaac Herzog echoed Liberman's sentiments on Monday, saying "There is no interest in a deterioration from either side."
"This is not a positive development, but I think we should not make more of this than it is... On a policy level, it is clear to all of us, both to Israel and to Egypt, to continue to maintain the peace treaty," he said.
On Sunday Egypt announced that it was terminating the gas deal inked in June, 2005. Egyptian officials said Cairo's decision to halt the flow of gas through the pipeline was not rooted in political disagreements. Rather, the issue was part of a commercial dispute between the companies and Egyptian government corporations that is presently being adjudicated abroad.
Oren Kessler and staff contributed to this report.