The Egyptian government has been ordered by a court to suspend gas exports to Israel, though it is unclear whether the ruling will be heeded. (photo,from aljazeera.net)
Egypt started piping gas to Israel earlier this year, under a deal to supply 1.7bn cubic metres a year over 20 years.
However, the deal should have been put before Egypt’s parliament before being finalised, said the court.
Because of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, there has been widespread opposition in Egypt to the exports.
Israeli’s continuing blockade of the Gaza Strip, where food and fuel supplies have been severely restricted, is an issue to many.
The ruling may be challenged or merely ignored by the government in Cairo, as it has done on several other issues, say correspondents.
“The People’s Assembly is the body best qualified to monitor the actions of the administration with regards to granting concessions to exploit natural wealth”, said the court in quotes carried by Mena, the state news agency.
Although Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel, the 1979 Camp David accords, relations have remained strained over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other regional issues.
Besides political objections, Egyptian activists have said Israel is buying the gas at prices below the international level.
While the ruling has not been commented by Egyptian petroleum officials, Israel’s infrastructure ministry said it had “no doubt” the gas deal remained valid.