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The New Arab

Israel energy minister in Cairo for 'Mediterranean gas summit'

Sisi has said a gas deal with Israel will turn Egypt into a powerhouse [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 January, 2019

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Israel's energy minister has arrived in Egypt to take part in a regional summit on natural gas and will reportedly meet with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Israel's energy minister has arrived in Egypt to take part in a regional summit on natural gas and will reportedly meet with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Yuval Steinitz landed in Cairo on Sunday to participate in the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, a spokesman for the minister said.

Energy ministers from Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Jordan as well as representatives from the Palestinian Authority and Italy are also participating in the summit.

Egyptian government sources told The New Arab's Arabic-language service that Steinitz is scheduled to meet Sisi after the two-day forum ends.

"There will be talks on a range of regional political issues besides the energy portfolio," the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

They added that Steinitz will also meet Egyptian intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, to discuss Cairo's efforts to reconcile Palestinian political rivals Hamas and Fatah.

Last February, Egypt, the only Arab state apart from Jordan to have a peace deal with Israel, inked an agreement to import gas from the Jewish state's Tamar and Leviathan reservoirs.

A US-Israeli consortium leading the development of Israel's offshore gas reserves in September announced it would buy part of a disused pipeline connecting the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon with the northern Sinai peninsula.

That would bypass a land pipeline across the Sinai that was repeatedly targeted by jihadists in 2011 and 2012.

The $15-billion deal will see some 64 billion cubic metres of gas pumped in from the Israeli fields over 10 years.

Sisi claims the controversial gas deal with Israel will turn Egypt into a regional energy powerhouse, bringing benefits for millions in the country. 

But such economic agreements have been controversial in Egypt, where support for the Palestinians runs high despite Egypt being the first Arab nation to make peace with Israel in 1979.

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