TEL AVIV - Israel and Egypt could strike a deal this week in which Israel would import natural gas from Egypt, following years of negotiations, a source in Israel's National Infrastructure Ministry said on Wednesday. Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, who is due to arrive in Israel for diplomatic talks, is expected to meet with National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer to discuss an agreement between Egypt's Eastern Mediterranean Gas and Israel's Electric Corporation, the source said. The USD 2.5 billion deal could be signed as early as Thursday, the source added. Israel wants to use natural gas to replace fuel oil that powers its three major electric plants in the country and aims for natural gas to make up about a quarter of its the total energy basket. Working off a business initiative from the mid-1990s, Egypt had initially agreed in 1999 to sell Israel natural gas through what then Prime Minister Ehud Barak's office dubbed a "pipeline of peace." But talks froze periodically over the years after peace negotiations with late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat broke down in 2000 and a four-year-old Palestinian uprising erupted in September 2000. Agreement in principle The original plan called for Egypt, the first Arab state to make peace with Israel, to sell Israel 2.2 billion cubic meters of gas every year for 20 years. Egypt's EMG and Israel's Electric Corporation have already signed an agreement in principle and are expected to close a final trade deal soon. Israel and Egypt plan to sign a diplomatic agreement in which Cairo would agree to export EMG's gas to the Jewish state, even if the firm breaks the deal or is dismantled.