The price of electricity is about to jump 20 percent, but will the cottage-cheese revolutionaries boycott the politicians who foiled a plan to develop Gaza’s gas field?
By Akiva Eldar

The 20-percent increase in the electricity price presumably will not spur the cottage-cheese revolutionaries to call upon the public to start using candles and to sweat under silenced air conditioners in the summer heat. It’s not our fault, say Israel Electric Corporation officials. Are we to blame that terrorists are constantly sabotaging the Egyptian natural gas pipeline and forcing us to resort to more costly fuel sources?

True, the Electric Corp. is not responsible for the fact that an entire country’s economy is dependent on the good graces of just one neighbor – a neighbor that is neither the paragon of stability nor a model of proper management. Following the revolution earlier this year, Egypt’s new regime has started investigating whether top officials in deposed President Hosni Mubarak’s government illicitly profited from selling the country’s natural gas.

In Israel, however, no one is demanding an accounting from the politicians who thwarted the initiative to develop a large gas field off Gaza’s beaches, thus forgoing another potential energy source. Had the politicians acted otherwise, the Israel Electric Corporation would have started receiving that gas this year, thus reducing dependence on Egyptian gas and pushing down the price of electricity and products dependent on it.

Were former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon able to tell us what motivated him not to cut the deal with the Palestinian Authority, he would without a doubt have explained that he feared the income would help finance terror. Sharon was not alone. Lt. Gen. (res. ) Moshe Ya’alon (now deputy prime minister ) wrote in June 2007 that even though Israel needs additional natural gas sources and the Palestinian people is desperate for income, when “the Gaza Strip is controlled by extremist Islam, and the West Bank is threatening to be next in line, sending $1 million from Israel into local or foreign Palestinian Authority bank accounts would be equivalent to financing terror.”

In an article published on the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs’ website, Ya’alon amused himself with the theory that the Gaza gas deal influenced the Olmert administration’s decision to refrain from a large ground operation in Gaza. No less. That article was written before Operation Cast Lead.

And lo and behold, half a year ago it was none other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who proposed renewing the talks with the Palestinian leadership about developing the Gaza gas field. At the end of a meeting with quartet envoy Tony Blair, Netanyahu reportedly said: “It’s good for growth, it’s good for stability, it’s good for peace.” Not a word about terror, not a syllable about financing Hamas.

Now that his patron Hosni Mubarak is gone, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will have no compunctions about competing against Egyptian gas. In Israel, as always, the citizens will pay a high price for what they could have gotten cheaply. They will join a Facebook boycott because a bland cheese became a few agorot more expensive while they pay extra hundreds and thousands of shekels because electricity costs more.