Egyptian presidential hopeful Amr Moussa rejected allegations on Sunday that he had supported plans to export natural gas to Israel when he was Egypt’s foreign minister in 1993, saying the claims were aimed at damaging his reputation.
Egypt’s daily newspaper Youm7 has published a letter Mr. Moussa reportedly sent to the erstwhile minister of petroleum Hamdi El Banbi expressing his support for a plan to export natural gas to Gaza Strip and Israel.
In a statement obtained by Al Arabiya, Mr. Moussa said, “The way the report was written and published and its main headline are not correct,” adding that the report provides incomplete information“in a way designed to insult the minister and accuse him of spying [for Israel].”
Mr. Mousa told Al Arabiya that the report was part of a campaign to damage his reputation, denouncing “unprecedented” misinformation in the Egypt.
“I promised the Egyptian people that if I am elected president I will work to make them realize their dreams and ambitions, and the people are aware of my sincere feelings and words and this is what bothers many forces that want to tamper with the fate of this nation,” Mr. Moussa, the former secretary general of the 22-nation Arab League, said.
In 2005 Egypt and Israel signed a $2.5 billion agreement on sales of Egyptian natural gas to Israel. The deal was billed then as a sign of warming bilateral relations between the two countries.
Media reports that the gas was being sold to Israel for cheap prompted the outrage of the Egyptian public against their government and the regime of the ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
The price was estimated by Egyptian media to be range between $0.70 and $1.50 per million British thermal units (BTU). Israeli media report a higher price between $2.50 and $4 per million BTUs. The average global price for natural gas is between $6 and $7 per million BTUs.
The flow of natural gas from Egypt was halted in early February 2011 after a pipeline was sabotaged by unknown militants.
Mr. Moussa had said he would reassess the terms of the Israeli gas deal if he were elected amid hints from Egyptian officials that the contract may eventually be renegotiated or terminated.
(Mustapha Ajbaili, a senior editor at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at Mustapha.firstname.lastname@example.org)