World Bulletin / News Desk
Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Monday said his government was cooperating with the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) to end the Gaza Strip's crippling power crisis.
"There is ongoing cooperation between us and the West Bank government aimed at ending the electricity crisis in Gaza and resuming the fuel supplies needed to run the power plant" in Gaza, Haniyeh told Anadolu Agency while touring a court complex in Gaza City.
Gaza's power plant, which supplies about one third of the coastal enclave's total electricity needs, ceased to function four weeks ago after running out of fuel.
Earlier Monday, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah travelled to Doha for talks on a possible financial contribution from Qatar aimed at ending the Gaza Strip's worsening electricity crisis, reliable PA sources said.
Hamdallah's visit came in the wake of a Sunday phone call between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
Sources with the West Bank-based PA presidency told AA that the Qatari leader had told Abbas that Doha would step in to end the electricity crisis in Gaza, either via the PA or through an agreement with Israel.
Emir Tamim conveyed to Abbas his fears that Gaza's ongoing power crisis would lead embattled Palestinian resistance faction Hamas to take escalatory measures against Israel, which, he warned, could lead to the outbreak of a new war in the region, according to the sources.
Sources added that two options were currently being considered. The first would see Qatar pay taxes on Israeli fuel – the subject of an ongoing dispute between the Gaza and West Bank governments that has halted the flow of fuel to Gaza's sole power plant.
The other option would see Qatar reach agreement with Israel on sending fuel through Israel's Ashdod port, which would mean that the PA would not be a party to the arrangement.
Gaza Energy Authority head Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil told AA earlier this month that Qatar had agreed to finance diesel purchases from Israel to help ease the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip.
Under the proposed deal, Qatar will foot the bill for diesel purchases from Israel through United Nations refugee agency UNRWA.
The impoverished Palestinian coastal enclave – home to almost 2 million people – has suffered an acute electricity crisis since Israeli warplanes bombed its main power station in 2006.
The plant requires some 650,000 liters of diesel fuel for its daily operations.
But providing the necessary fuel has become increasingly difficult in light of an Egyptian army crackdown – launched in the wake of the July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the military – that has led to the closure of most Egypt-Gaza smuggling tunnels.
Electricity outages in Gaza typically last for eight hours every day, but the Egyptian crackdown on the border tunnels has aggravated the situation, causing daily power outages of up to more than 12 hours.
If the UNRWA was able to buy the necessary amounts of fuel for the power plant, Khalil said, power outages would return to the usual rate of around eight hours a day.Last Mod: 25 Kasım 2013, 14:59