An independent economic source, who asked to remain anonymous, told Ahram Online this week that as part of a plan to deal with severe energy shortages, “which might lead to electricity cuts of over five hours a day across the nation during the summer,” the authorities are considering all options, not excluding the import of natural gas from Israel “at a price that could probably be much higher than that Israel was charged when it imported gas from Egypt.”The article also looks at security cooperation throughout the years and how Egyptians still consider Israel the enemy:
A government source declined to confirm the news but said that no decision would be taken on the matter “most probably” before the inauguration of a new president this summer.
The export of natural gas from Israel constitutes another element of otherwise stable but limited Egyptian-Israeli trade and economic cooperation.
Trade and economic cooperation have been generally the most stable factor of the bilateral relations between Cairo and Tel Aviv which were was established 35 years ago when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty in March 1979.
Trade between the two countries dropped somewhat after the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, but government officials in Cairo say that this drop is possibly incidental.
“Cooperation in natural gas has been very stable for many years despite the suspension and trade dispute that occurred after the 25 January Revolution removed Mubarak -- but this is the case with trade cooperation in general, limited and stable,” said a government official.
Trade cooperation between Egypt and Israel has been generally focused on the textile industry -- with Egypt, Israel and the US being members of the Qualified Industrial Zone that allows Egyptian products that have an Israeli component free access to the US market.
Other than this there has been a generally stable export-import cooperation of a limited list of commodities that are generally integrated into non-Israeli commodities before they find their way to the Egyptian market.
“It is very unfortunate that we cannot be pragmatic and say this particular country has good quality and inexpensive commodities and we are going to import from it because it is in our interest; after all these years an Israeli commodity on say the shelf of a supermarket would not be picked up except by a few people -- if we assume that any supermarket would at all dare to carry, say, Israeli fruit juice,” said a member of the Egyptian business community who has been doing business with Israel.
Like the vast majority of Egyptian entrepreneurs who cooperate with Israeli counterparts, the businessman insists on being anonymous and on keeping a low profile for fear of being “stigmatised as dealing with the enemy.”
“I really don’t understand; we have a peace deal and we cannot do business, it has been 35 years since this peace treaty was signed and still it is a big issue if someone said let us do business with Israel or let us benefit of their agricultural expertise,” he said.
For the near future, nobody is expecting any serious changes in the profile of Egyptian-Israeli relations: a cold peace that is executed essentially at the official level and that fails to get Egyptians, even those who were born after the peace treaty was signed in 1979, to think of Israel as anything but an enemy state with which Egypt has a peace deal.If anyone thinks that a "peace treaty" with a Palestinian Arab state would be any warmer than this, they are crazy.
“They think because the history curricula in school does not refer to the horrors that Israel did to us in the years before the treaty and that it is still doing to the Palestinians that we will think of Israel as we think of any other state -- well, no, we don’t think of Israel as anything but a hostile state,” said Sarah, a 21 year-old Egyptian who graduated last year from the law department at Cairo University. “Israel is built on the stolen land and broken lives of Palestinians; it is the enemy,” she said.