Egypt Resumes Gas Flow to Israel, but Relations Still in Flux

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It took five weeks instead of five days, but Egypt has resumed natural gas shipments to Israel , repairing the damage from a sabotaged pipeline and offering succor to Israeli hopes that the world may not have turned entirely upside down after all.

Israel relies on Egypt for nearly half of its natural gas needs, and it has a plenty of them, using the relatively clean fuel to power electrical plants.  Significant offshore finds give Israel some hope of being energy independent in the future, though those fields aren’t due to come on line for a couple of years at least.

But actual practical energy considerations aside, the fate of the pipeline has also been an indicator of whether post-Mubarak Egypt will stand by commitments that both sides know are not terribly popular with the ordinary Egyptians who overthrew the president.  Israelis have been reassured so far — by the continued control exercised by the Egyptian military; by a statement from the presumptive presidential frontrunner, outgoing Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa, that the country should stand by its 1979 peace treaty with Israel; and by the resumption of work in Israeli-owned textile factories in the “Qualifying Industrial Zone” that by a 2005 agreement allow duty-free exports to the United States.

Which is not to say everything is going back to the way it was. The Egyptians are bringing the gas levels up slowly, according to news reports, while explaining that the price may also have to go up.