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Egypt Pipeline Carrying Gas to Israel Blown Up Again; Elections Begin

The flow of Egyptian natural gas to Israel and Jordan has again been interrupted by an explosion near the Sinai Peninsula town of Al-Arish. The blast came on the eve of the first round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections – the first vote to be taken since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. The pipeline has been sabotaged eight times since Mubarak’s departure in February and one time prior. The deal to sell Israel some 40% of its natural gas needs became a rallying point among demonstrators protesting the Mubarak regime. Since February, there have been calls for the contract to be re-negotiated and fees charged to Israel significantly raised. The price Jordan pays was doubled last month. Meanwhile, Egyptians enter the first of three phases of its parliamentary election process on Monday. The Muslim Brotherhood is predicted to be the big winner with other Islamist parties also predicted to fare well. Concern is rising in Israel over the strong relationship between the Islamist groups and Gaza-based Hamas. The first order of business for the newly-elected parliament will be to draft a constitution that will become effective prior to the presidential balloting now set for next June.