According to Arab media, Qatari industry minister tells Israeli counterpart his country ready to supply natural gas to Jewish state 'for an unlimited period of time and below market prices'
by Doron Peskin
Several newspapers and Internet forums in the Arab world are reporting that Qatar has expressed its willingness to supply natural gas to Israel instead of Egypt. The reports' sources have not been disclosed.
According to the reports, Qatar's Industry and Commerce Minister Hassan Abdulla Fakhro told his Israeli counterpart in a phone conversation that his country was willing to export natural gas to the Jewish state "for an unlimited period of time and below market prices".
The Israeli minister, the reports said, "voiced his appreciation for the Qatari government's stance" on the issue.
It should be noted that Qatar is an important player in the global natural gas market. It controls 15% of the world's gas reserves and is considered a leading global supplier in this field.
Reports on talks between Israel and Qatar on the issue of a gas deal have surfaced in the past. Initial talks were held in the early 1990s, but in 1997 Israel declared that the option was no longer on the table.
In 2008, then-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with the Qatari energy minister and discussed the possibility of importing natural gas from his country. The talks did not materialize into a deal.
It is unclear whether the reports published Wednesday are true. The attempt to link Qatar to Israel may have been initiated by different Arab elements as an "act of revenge" following the coverage of the recent revolutions in the Arab world by the al- al-Jazeera network, which is owned by the government in Doha.
Egypt: We don't have to sell gas to Israel
Kuwaiti newspaper quotes Finance Minister Samir Radwan as saying peace treaty does not obligate his country to sell natural gas to Jewish state
Egyptian Finance Minister Samir Radwan has been quoted as saying that the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty does not obligate his country to sell natural gas to the Jewish state.
Radwan gave an interview to a local newspaper during a visit to Kuwait on Sunday, stressing that the prices must be updated and adjusted to the price levels of the global market, regardless of whether the exports go to Israel, Jordan, Syria or Spain.
Meanwhile, Jordan has begun looking for alternatives for the Egyptian gas following last week's attack on the gas pipeline in El-Arish. The kingdom's Energy Minister Khaled Touqan says his country has asked Iraq to increase its oil supplies from 10,000 barrels a day to 30,000.
According to Touqan, the Egyptian authorities told Jordan that the pipeline would be fixed within two weeks. Since the blast, the amount of gas supplied to Jordan from Egypt has gone down to half or one-third of the amount supplied before the blast (about 240 million cubic feet a day).
The Jordanian economy suffered greatly from previous attack on the pipeline on February 5, which led to a halt in the Egyptian gas flow, after it was forced to start using fuel oil. The damage was estimated at some $3 million a day.