(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel has balked at a request to boost the amount of electricity it supplies to
the Gaza Strip on the grounds that it does not want to cooperate with the Hamas
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Quartet representative Tony Blair made the request on
Monday at a meeting with Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, on behalf of the
Palestinian Authority, Blair’s spokesman confirmed to The Media
“Mr. Blair did raise this issue and asked for an increase to the
electricity output to Gaza,” the spokesman said.
“Mr. Blair raised the
issue at the request of the Palestinian Energy Authority in the Palestinian
Authority. Our discussions are ongoing.”
Since the beginning of the year,
Gaza has been experiencing power cuts – sometimes lasting for eight to 10 hours
– due to a shortage of industrial fuel to power the turbines at the only
electricity power plant in the Gaza Strip, located near the Nuseirat refugee
camp. Israel supplies Gaza with about 60 percent of its
Blair’s appeal encountered a cold refusal from Shalom, who
is also the minister for regional development.
“I expect the
international community to pressure Hamas into accepting the Quartet’s
conditions,” Shalom said in a press release published by his office following
the meeting. “I regard Hamas as responsible for the suffering of residents in
the Gaza Strip.
Israel cannot afford to cooperate with a terror
organization that wishes to annihilate it.”
Shalom’s spokeswoman Lee Gat
said the statement should not have been understood as an outright refusal of the
PA request, but rather as Shalom’s general approach regarding cooperation with
Israel supplies Gaza with 120 megawatts of electricity through 10
Hala Zibda of the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources
Authority in Gaza said that the request for additional electricity was sent from
the office of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah, since no direct
contact existed between the Israeli government and Hamas.
Israel signed an agreement with the Palestinian Authority to provide electricity
to Gaza through a new power line, No. 161. The Palestinian Authority even paid
part of the sum for its construction, but the Israelis never implemented the
agreement,” Zibda said.
In June, Blair held a joint press conference with
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu following an Israeli government decision to
loosen the ban on materials entering the Gaza Strip. “Over these coming months
we need to improve life in Gaza,” Blair said at that event.
arrangements have been made to keep the electricity flowing after the Gaza
Electricity Distribution Company finally paid its bill for diesel fuel to the
PA. The money for the bill was raised by a cut in the salaries of PA civil
Fayyad announced on Tuesday the transfer of 320,000 liters of
diesel fuel a day into Gaza for a period of five days.
in Gaza’s prolonged energy crisis was made possible after the Gaza Electricity
Distribution Company paid $2 million to the account of the Energy Authority in
According to the Palestinian NGO network, 600,000 liters of
industrial diesel entered Gaza on Wednesday, meant to fuel two of Gaza’s four
“Tonight at five o’clock Gaza will be illuminated!” said
Amjad al-Shawwa, head of the Palestinian NGO Network.
Shawwa added that
600,000 more liters were scheduled to enter Gaza on Thursday, covering Gaza’s
energy demand over the weekend when border crossings with Israel were
“The Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority also agreed
to pressure Israel into completing the construction of power line 161, which
would add between 30 and 50 megawatts to Gaza’s power grid,” Shawwa said. “This,
together with importing natural gas, would mean developments on the strategic
Shawwa said the PA had paid Israel NIS 7m. for power line 161 in
2005, but it was never built due to Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip in June
2007 and Israel’s policy not to strengthen the rule of Hamas.