JERUSALEM (JTA) — Natural gas supplies to Israel have been cut off after an explosion in an Egyptian gas line in the Sinai Peninsula.
It is unclear whether Saturday’s explosion was caused by a gas leak or by sabotage. The head of Egypt’s natural gas company said the explosion was caused by a gas leak; Egyptian state television said the explosion was a result of sabotage. A security official said the blast was caused by an explosive charge detonated inside the terminal, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Gas supply was also cut off to Jordan, according to reports.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel is prepared for "such situations" and that there is not expected to be a disruption in power in the country due to the explosion.
"I believe that the shocks in our region underscore and reiterate that Israel is an island of stability in turbulent area and we will continue to do everything to ensure the security and vital interests of the State of Israel, in the face of the major challenges yet before us as well," Netanyahu told the Cabinet at its regular Sunday meeting.
It will take a week for the pipeline to be repaired and for the flow of gas to be restored to Israel, according to reports.
About half of Israel’s electricity comes from natural gas from both Egyptian and Israeli sources. Egypt began pumping gas to Israel in 2008, as part of a 15-year contract. Prior to six years ago, all of Israel’s electricity was generated by imported coal and oil, according to the Jerusalem Post.
A large natural gas field was discovered underground off the coast of Israel late last year. It will begin providing the natural resource some time in 2012, according to reports.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Egypt’s main opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood, said it would hold talks with newly named Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman, but said it would not move forward with negotiations unless President Hosni Mubarak resigns. Smaller opposition parties have refused to meet at all until Mubarak ends his 30-year reign, according to reports.
Leaders of Egypt’s ruling party, the National Democratic Party, including Mubarak’s son Gamal, resigned from office on Saturday, according to reports.