Cairo court says gas exports to Israel can continue

CAIRO  – A Cairo court ruled on Monday that Egyptian gas exports to Israel can continue, pending a review of a November court verdict that the exports should stop.

The government had ignored the November verdict anyway and the Israeli company which buys the gas has not complained of any disruption in supplies, used in Israeli power stations.

The Higher Administrative Court, an appeals court for cases involving the state, also referred the government’s challenge to the original ruling to a panel of legal experts for a review of the whole case. The next session will be on March 16.

A lower court ruled in November that the government’s decision to allow exports of natural gas to Israel was unsound because the constitution gave parliament the right to decide on sales of natural resources, a condition which was not met.

But a senior Egyptian official said at the time that the verdict did not require immediate implementation and the government would appeal against it.

Gas started flowing to Israel through a pipeline for the first time in May 2008 under an agreement signed in 2005 for the supply of 1.7 billion cubic meters a year over 20 years.

The group of lawyers who filed the suit against the government said the Israelis were buying the gas at prices below the international level. The Egyptian government rarely reveals the prices it receives for natural gas exports.

Mohamed Anwar el-Sadat, one of the plaintiffs, told reporters the ruling came as a blow and a surprise.

“No one disagrees on the need to stop the bleeding of the state’s resources. The people are very sad about the export of gas to Israel in the wake of the barbaric massacres which Israeli has carried out in Gaza,” added Sadat, a former lawmaker and a nephew of late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

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