Egyptâ€™s national gas company EGAS made an announcement that it will be proceeding with plans to cancel a natural gas supply deal it formerly made with Israel.
EGAS released a statement that it will be terminating its contract with Ampal-American Israel Corporation, which is a partner in the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG). EMG, in response, has expressed dismay at EGASâ€™s decision and is demanding that they withdraw their plans for termination. It also added that the decision could jeopardize the existing peace agreement with Israel.
The chief of the Egyptian Natural Gas Company, Mohamed Shoeb, maintained that the choice to sever the deal agreement was due to a business dispute and not a political one. He also added that part of the decision was due to Israel failing to pay for its gas in the last four months, a claim that Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor dismissed as false.
Yuval Steinitz, the finance minister, responded to EGASâ€™ decision, saying that the cancellation of the gas agreement can seriously hurt Egypt and Israel relations both politically and economically.
Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz is also chiding in and calling for the U.S. to intervene in the matter. The U.S. was present when the Camp David Accords were signed.
Israel and Egypt made a pact in 2005 in which Egypt agreed to allocate seven billion cubic meters of its gas to Israel over the next 20 years. EMG obtains its gas through an Egyptian pipeline, which it then sells to Israeli customers. The pipeline, however, is in constant jeopardy as it is often targeted since the ouster of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. The pipeline is Israelâ€™s main source of power, and the country has faced bouts of power outages due to shortages of energy. EMG has blamed this on the pipeline attacks and is now seeking compensation from Egypt for its failure to protect their investment.
There are sports fans, and there are sports fanatics. The latter are extremists who will resort to violence and chaos regardless of whether their team is victorious or defeated. It is both sad and pathetic that such people will create destruction and harm innocent lives all in the name of sports.
This was exactly what happened back in early February when 74 fans were killed when a riot ensued following a football match. Dozens of rioters were arrested and are now facing charges for their role in the rampage. The defendants remained defiant during their first court appearance as they chanted in unison to proclaim their innocence. Their protest was countered by the victimsâ€™ relatives who held up pictures of their loved ones. The individual charges were read out, which ranged from negligence of violence to murder.
The football match that took place in February was between two rival teams: al-Masry and al-Ahly. Following al-Masryâ€™s victory, its fans stormed the field and began assaulting al-Ahly fans. In the aftermath of the bloody event, rumors surfaced of the police force not doing enough to quell the incident. This led to more violent clashes that resulted in 16 deaths. It was reported that security officials failed to check for knives and other melee weapons as fans gathered into the stadium.
Some Egyptians believe that the tragedy was orchestrated in advance and was a retaliatory attack after al-Ahly fans took part in a revolution last year that resulted in the ouster of politician and military commander Hosni Mubarak.
Whether there was an ulterior motive for the riot or the fans simply acted in the heat of the moment, it is certainly the worst display of human behavior. It is truly disturbing that some people will act out in the vilest way possible over the results of a sports game.
After being evacuated amidst the recent violent protests, four Israeli diplomats and security personnel will be returning to Israel’s embassy in Cairo. The return comes amidst reports by the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram that the protesters were actually paid to attack the embassy.
The envoys will return to Cairo to a different building and work to retain the Jewish Country’s diplomatic presence in Egypt. The ambassadors left almost two weeks ago after Egyptian demonstrators stormed Israelâ€™s embassy in Cairo, necessitating the emergency rescue of its staff by Egyptian commandos.
Egyptian protesters who were recently questioned by Egyptian security reportedly said that they were offered money to cause the riots. The riot and protest participants were bused to the area, then given dinner and envelopes containing money, according to al-Ahram.
Just Journalism and JN1
In other news, Just Journalism, the organization set up three years ago to monitor media coverage of Israel, is closing its doors. A statement announcing the closure on its website this afternoon told supporters: “Despite our extremely modest budget it has become increasingly difficult to financially sustain the operation in the current economic environment”.
Along with daily online briefings, Just Journalism published more detailed reports to expose “skewed” reporting of the Jewish Country.
Its advisory board includes MP Denis MacShane, political commentator Robin Shepherd, think-tank head Douglas Murray and the editor of Standpoint magazine Daniel Johnson.
Meanwhile, Ynet reports that the first-ever Jewish news network will commence broadcasting this week:
Jewish News 1 (JN1) was born as an alternative to the world’s leading news networks â€“ CNN, Fox News and Sky News. But its main goal is to serve as the Jewish version of al-Jazeera, which has won the hearts of tens of millions of Arab viewers over the past 15 years.
According to the Makor Rishon newspaper, the channel will be broadcast via satellite to Europe, North America and the Middle East. In Israel it will be offered by the Yes satellite company.
“Jewish News 1” will broadcast news from Israel and the world 24/7. The network has already set up studios in Tel Aviv, Brussels and Kiev, and additional studios will be opened in Washington, Paris and London in the coming months.
The network has 12 correspondents, all foreigners, who are currently deployed in six countries. The casting of reporters to cover the news in Israel, Europe and Russia will be completed in the coming days.
The network will begin its broadcasts in English, but its managers seek to offer news in seven additional languages, including Hebrew, French, Italian, Russian and German.
“We’ll broadcast everything that is newsworthy,” says Alexander Zanzer, the channel’s editor-in-chief in Brussels, where the station is based. “Alongside general news, we’ll offer economic and cultural items, as well as a peek into educational projects. Everything you can see on other global news channels, you’ll be able to see on our channel as well.”
Palestinian Statehood on track…
In other news, Palestinian diplomats are planning to submit their application for statehood to the United Nations Security Council on Friday, even as world leaders are pressuring President Mahmoud Abbas to return to peace negotiations with Israel as an alternative. The quartet of powers involved in brokering peaceâ€”that is the U.N., the European Union, U.S., and Russiaâ€”hope to set up a feasible timeline for new negotiations, alongside a pledge supporting Palestinian statehood should the negotiations fail. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said on Sunday, however,â€œUnfortunately, we didnâ€™t get any solid or even medium-sized [offer] at all. As a result, yes, we are firm in our decision to go to the Security Council.â€
One article I found on the Internet â€“ don’t know who it’s by â€“ reads as follows:
“Hitler never had more than 37 percent of the popular vote in the honest elections that occurred before he became Chancellor. And the opposition among the 63 percent against him was generally quite strong. Hitler therefore would have never seen the light of day had the German Republic been truly democratic.”
The introduction to the thesis continues:
“Unfortunately, its otherwise sound constitution contained a few fatal flaws. The German leaders also had a weak devotion to democracy, and some were actively plotting to overthrow it. Hitler furthermore enjoyed an almost unbroken string of luck in coming to power. He benefited greatly from the Great Depression, the half-senility of the president, the incompetence of his opposition, and the appearance of an unnecessary backroom deal just as the Nazis were starting to lose popular appeal and votes.”
What will the new anti-Semitic, Koran guzzling psycho of Egypt hold in the cards for the future of the region? Will he beâ€¦â€¦Hitleresque?
Hear about this?
A bunch of “freedom seeking”, whip cracking, Pharoahites have taken the anti-Israel protests in Cairo once step further.
What began as vandalism of the Israeli embassy in Cairo last month when Hamas militants opened fire on an Egged bus close to the Sinai border with Eilat has quickly escalated. Anna Theresa Day of PolicyMic.com has a nice slideshow of last month’s situation. See it Associated Press reports:
“Outside the Nile-side Israeli embassy in Cairo’s neighborhood of Giza, thousands of protesters battled riot police and army troops into the early morning hours, hurling rocks at them. The police and army troops responded with tear and firing live ammunition into the air to try and disperse the crowd. Several cars, police vehicles and trees on the streets outside the embassy were set ablaze. The violence subsided by around 6 a.m.
The state MENA news agency said 837 people were injured in the overnight clashes, including at least 46 policemen, while 19 protesters were arrested.
Earlier on Friday, hundreds of protesters tore down the embassy’s security wall with sledgehammers and their bare hands. After nightfall about 30 protesters stormed into the embassy.
Just before midnight, the mob reached a room on one of the embassy’s lower floors at the top of the building and began dumping Hebrew-language documents from the windows, said an Egyptian security official.
In Jerusalem, an Israeli official said the protesters reached a waiting room on the lower floor. Israel’s ambassador, Yitzhak Levanon, his family and other embassy staff were rushed to Cairo airport and left on a military plane for Israel, said Egyptian airport officials.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information or speak to the media.
Since the February fall of Mubarak â€” who worked closely with the Israelis in his 29 years in power â€” ties have steadily worsened between the two countries.”
One Jerusalem bro, old Ethan Bronner and the New York Slimes’ Egypt bureau Chief, David Fitzpatreck reported:
Two Israeli military jets arrived around dawn to carry away the ambassador and about 85 other diplomats and family members. One Israeli diplomat, the deputy ambassador, stayed behind, taking refuge in the American embassy, diplomats familiar with the arrangements said.
For Israel, the embassy attack and evacuation represented the most ominous deterioration yet in its relationship with its neighbor in the seven months since the revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, a strongman who suppressed the Egyptian publicâ€™s hostility to Israel in order keep his countryâ€™s alliance with Israel and the United States the pole star of its foreign policy.
The Egyptian Prime Minister, Essam Sharaf, who serves under the council of military officers acting as a transitional government, called an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday as the Egyptian interior ministry put police on alert to guard against more violence.
For Egyptâ€™s interim military rulers, allowing the invasion of a foreign embassy is an extraordinary breach of Egyptâ€™s international commitments that is raising security concerns at other embassies as wellâ€¦
… The attack on the embassy marked a new turn toward violence in the previously peaceful protest movement that has flourished in Cairoâ€™s Tahrir Square since the revolution. At a demonstration called Friday to reiterate a litany of liberal demands, thousands of hard-core football fans showed up looking for revenge on police who attacked some of them after a match earlier in the week, and they injected a new impulse toward mayhem into the dayâ€¦
… As an angry mob stormed the embassy and tore down its flag for the second time in a month, Israel appealed to the United States for help. Coming a week after Turkey expelled Israelâ€™s ambassador over its refusal to apologize for a deadly raid on a Turkish ship, the attack left Israel facing crises in relations with its two most important regional allies, and ambassadors in neither countryâ€¦
…The violence also raised concerns about whether Egyptâ€™s military-led transitional government would be able to maintain law and order and meet its international obligations, and to what extent popular rage unleashed by the Arab Spring would send a chill over the regionâ€¦”
Israeli experts have nearly completed the restoration of the five-century-old, 2.5 mile wide walls of Jerusalem. The $5 million undertaking â€“ the first restoration in a century â€“ which commenced in 2007 is set to be completed by the end of 2011. But this is not the only wall being built in Israel.
Israel is also increasing its presence along the Egyptian border and building a brand new fence after terror attacks last week injured dozens of Israelis and killed eight. The government is building a new, NIS 1.4 billion fence along the border, but construction is expected to take some two years. Consequently, the NSC recommended increasing the IDFâ€™s deployment along the border in the meantime.
Many in Egypt are worried that the increased Israeli military presence along the border could be permanent and will keep tensions between the two countries high. This is among the reasons for protests in Cairo outside the Israeli embassy, where Israeli flags are being burnt.
Reportedly, both the Egyptian and Israeli militaries are in constant discussion over how to tackle the militant issue in the Sinai Peninsula. One anonymous official said, â€œRight now, we are looking at ways of reducing the tension and working together, logistically, on how to battle violent militants in Egyptâ€¦”
Meanwhile, Ynet reported that an “Army inquiry shows at least three of the terrorists that perpetrated attack were Egyptians; clips, radio communication show IDF did everything in its power to prevent Egyptian troops from getting hurt.”
And in other news, Iranian dictator, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, released a statement saying:
“Iran believes that whoever is for humanity should also be for eradicating the Zionist regime (Israel) as symbol of suppression and discrimination…Iran follows this issue (the eradication of Israel) with determination and decisiveness and will never ever withdraw from this standpoint and policyâ€¦”
The remarks came only one day before the annual anti-Israeli rallies named Qods (Jerusalem) Day, which are held nationwide in Iran on the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan. On Monday, Ahmadinejad said that Iranians and Muslim nations worldwide should hold Qods rallies and show their willingness to dispose of this “infectious tumor and this regime full of rascality.”
If there is anything bizarre about the Middle East, besides permitting genocide in Syria, it is Israel’s strange relationship with an Egypt that still exists in a state of formless static â€“ still no elections, alas no formal government. After a coordinated terror attack on the road to Eilat that left eight Israeli nationals dead (The Popular Resistance Committee claimed responsibility) IDF soldiers accidently killed four Egyptian police officers, victims of friendly fire.
The IDF also was successful in their retaliation by killing the top commanders of the Popular Resistance Committee and setting off cross-border exchanges of gunfire.
Needlessly, Israel released a public apology for the incident. But on Friday as evening prayers were winding down, the people of Cairo rioted, vandalizing the Israeli embassy, burning Israeli flags and calling on Hamas to attack Israel. Dually noted, as the Associated Foreign Press reported, Egyptian Presidential hopeful, Hamdin Sabahi, praised the actions of the demonstrators.
Despite the fact that Ilan Grapel, the alleged Mossad agent arrested back in June in Egypt, (an American citizen who served in the IDF Paratrooperâ€™s Brigade during the Second Lebanon War and interned at the Israeli Supreme Court) is still being held in custody, Israeli President Shimon Peres held a Ramadan dinner for senior Arab sector officials at his home in Jerusalem. Peres told Egyptian diplomat Mustafa al-Kuni that “he has great respect for the Egyptian people.”
Meanwhile, Israel remains under a rain of rocket fire, while Hamas claims to be in fire of an immediate ceasefire.
In other news, over the weekend, Israel Aerospace Industries unveiled its latest development in the secret unmanned aerial vehicles sector – a tiny aircraft weighing four kilograms, known as GHOST. According to Haaretz, “GHOST has a low acoustic signature, and can stay airborne for half-an-hour including a payload for both daytime and nighttime observations.” The unmanned aerial vehicle can be used by both the military company as well as fighters in the field. The system can be carried in two backpacks by fighters, and it includes two aircrafts, several batteries and a portable computer that is used to oversee and control the device, including communication.
On Saturday, Palestinian women hit the streets of Gaza City to celebrate the ousting of Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, calling the event a “victory of Egyptian youth.”
Of course, when the news of the toppling of Mubarak broke, Hamas leaders were quick to urge Egypt’s new leaders to lift the blockade of Gaza.
Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, urged Cairo to “immediately” open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza.
If indeed Egypt’s coastal blockade of Gaza is now over, why not merge the Gaza Strip and Egypt into one Arab nation.
Meanwhile, the top US military commander will visit Israel and Jordan on Sunday and Monday to reaffirm American support following the Egyptian revolution.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, will begin his trip in Amman, Jordan where he will meet with King Abdullah II and his Jordanian counterpart, Lieutenant General Meshaal Al-Zabn.
Pentagon spokesman, Captain John Kirby said:
“He will discuss security issues of mutual concern and reassure both these key partners of the US military’s commitment to that partnership”.
Once in Israel, Mullen will hold talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres as well as the country’s military leaders.
As mayhem continues throughout the Middle East, journalists are in danger, and consequently, so is revelation of truth. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, has been accused by the Committee to Protect Journalists for “an unprecedented and systematic attack” on international reporters.
The committee’s executive director, Joel Simon, said:
“This is a dark day for Egypt and a dark day for journalismâ€¦With this turn of events, Egypt is seeking to create an information vacuum that puts it in the company of the world’s worst oppressors, countries such as Burma, Iran and Cubaâ€¦We hold President Mubarak personally responsible for this unprecedented actionâ€¦and call on the Egyptian government to reverse course immediately.”
Incognito agents have gone so far as to enter hotels and confiscate equipment. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Friday 101 direct attacks on news facilities and journalists. Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud of the newspaper Al-Ta’awun, was shot and killed by sniper fire while filming demonstrations in central Cairo’s Qasr al-Aini, adjacent to Tahrir Square.
Al-Jazzera, BBC, Al-Arabiya, ABC News, the Washington Post, Fox News, and CNN all said they have staff members who’ve been attacked. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also reported that staffers were detained.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, despite the ongoing Internet black-out said:
“There have been no instructions to hinder the coverage of the media in the Tahrir areaâ€¦I made clear that they have full freedom to do anything they want.”
Egyptian and American sources told the New York Times that Egyptian Vice President, Omar Suleiman, who nearly escaped an assassination attempt in recent days that took the lives of two of his body guards, met with army leaders to discuss steps to weaken President Hosni Mubarak’s authority and possibly have him removed him from the presidential palace.
The capital of Sudan, Khartoum, is another city where waves of protests became violent. On Saturday morning, 12 journalists were kidnapped.
Along with similar demonstrations in Syria, Turkey, Malaysia and Iraq, hundreds of Jordanian protesters marched toward the Egyptian embassy in Ankara, calling Mubarak a puppet of Israel. Jordan’s main Muslim opposition, however, said it wants to give their new leader an opportunity to carry out the political reforms promised.
Among reforms that the Jordanian population would like to see are financial. According to a wire by the latest WikiLeaks release, more than 80% of the Hashmonean Kingdom’s budget is spent on “bloated” civil service and a military “patronage system” â€“ including supporting U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The Jordanian government told U.S. diplomats that:
In spite of increased calls by opposition groups and non-governmental figures to explain its Afghanistan assistance and end its security cooper with the United States … Mashâ€™al Al Zaben, Chief of Staff for Strategy, stated that Jordan would stay in Afghanistan until the last U.S. soldier came home.”
Jordanâ€™s deficit hit a record $2 billion this year, while inflation rose six percent and unemployment figures hit 12.9 percent.
The WikiLeaks documents also told of Jordanâ€™s military support to NATOâ€™s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. According to the ambassador:
â€œJordan has already made a significant contribution of forces in Afghanistan (ref B), currently numbered at 850 troops, which includes an infantry battalion, a special operations company, and a field hospitalâ€¦Prince Faisal and Minister Hasan will likely make a number of offers for increased participation in Afghanistan. Prince Faisal and Minister Hasan will likely make a number of offers for increased participation in Afghanistanâ€¦”
Tweeting around the Egyptian Internet gag order: