In a major breakthrough, Israel may soon be able to provide the Palestinian city of Gaza with gas.
Gas that was originally Palestinian.
This relates to an agreement to provide Israeli natural gas to Gaza in an attempt to solve the coastal enclave’s electricity crisis is likely to be approved within the next six months, Qatari envoy Mohammad al-Emadi said on February 14th.
Gaza’s 1.8 million population suffers from a chronic electricity crisis.
The coastal enclave has only one power plant and experiences daily blackouts of between eight and 12 hours. The power plant runs on imported diesel fuel.
Transitioning Gaza from diesel fuel to natural gas is widely viewed as an important solution to the enclave’s electricity crisis.
The natural gas in question is expected to come from the Leviathan field off the coast of Israel, according to a Delek spokesperson. Delek will also take charge of laying a transmission system for the pipeline.
It was not clear whether Delek would be paid out of the Qatari treasury, as Qatar does not have formal relations with Israel, and no comment was provided.
Al-Emadi, who regularly travels between Israel, Qatar, and Gaza, bearing cash and messages from Doha, has since served as an unofficial broker between the three sides.
Qatar is one of the Palestinians’ biggest supporters, and Israel has allowed it to provide regular aid since 2018.
According to al-Emadi, the use of natural gas, rather than relatively more expensive diesel fuel, will dramatically reduce the cost that the Palestinian Authority and Qatar pay in fuel subsidies to the coastal enclave.
“The pipeline will reduce the [annual] cost of electricity from $22 million to less than $10 million,” al-Emadi said.
The European Union has allocated $5 million to pay for part of the pipeline, although it has yet to be finalized.
Qatar will pay to set up the pipeline within Israeli territory, al-Emadi said.
“The importance of this project is not just that it will to a large extent allow catering to the energy demands of the Gaza Strip. It will also help power the Gaza desalination plant, ensuring access to clean water for many Gazans,” said Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, the European Union’s envoy to the Palestinians.
No agreement has yet been officially signed between Israel, Qatar, the European Union, and the Palestinian Authority to provide natural gas to Gaza, Kühn von Burgsdorff said.
He said he hoped the agreements would be finalized “within the next few months.”
“All these parties want to move forward on this,” Kühn von Burgsdorff said in a phone call.
In a statement, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said the anticipated agreement would “reduce regional air pollution.”
“Any agreement made to provide natural gas from Israel to the Gaza power plant is being done with our full coordination,” Steinitz said in a statement.
Al-Emadi concluded that he expected everything for the pipeline to be concluded in approximately 2.5 years.
“Everything needs to fall into place in the next few months,” he said. “We’re looking forward to formalizing the interests and undertakings of the four parties. We expect progress, because it’s in the interest of everyone.”
Israel simply agrees for pipes to run through its territory, allowing it yet another way to pressure the Palestinians living in Gaza.
It will not provide any natural gas, or any service free of charge. It simply agrees to indirectly sell gas that was originally owned by the Palestinians back to them.
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