Egypt-Israel Gas Issue Becoming Explosive

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The two weeks since Egypt's abrupt cancellation of a Mubarak-era gas-export deal with Israel have seen an exchange of indirect threats and warnings between the two countries, culminating in an apparent Israeli military build-up on the border of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. 'In recent days, Israel appears to have begun preparing for military deployments on its southern border,' Tarek Fahmi, head of the Israel desk at the Cairo-based National Centre for Middle East Studies, told IPS. On Apr. 22, Egypt unilaterally cancelled a 2005 export agreement for the sale of natural gas to Israel, which for the past five years had ensured a steady supply of Egyptian gas from the northern Sinai Peninsula to Israel. Egyptian energy officials attributed the move to Israel's failure to meet payment deadlines, stressing that the decision was 'not politically motivated.'

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