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PA premier in Qatar to address Gaza power crisis

Nov. 26, 2013 12:47 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 27, 2013 10:41 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is scheduled to discuss with Qatari officials possible solutions to end the ongoing power crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Chief of the Palestinian Power Authority Omar Kittanah told Ma'an Tuesday that the Palestinian Authority was exerting serious efforts to end the coastal enclave's power crisis which resulted from a lack of fuel to run Gaza's sole power plant.

Hamdallah arrived in Qatar Sunday for talks with Qatari officials including his counterpart Abdullah Ibn Nasser.

Palestinian news outlets reported that Hamdallah was invited by the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Ibn Hamad Al Thani to discuss possible solutions to Gaza's power crisis.

Palestinian daily al-Ayyam newspaper on Tuesday discussed two solutions Qatar is offering.

According to the newspaper, Qatar will suggest either to pay the PA money to buy fuel from Israel and deliver it to Gaza, or to ship fuel from Qatar via Israel's Ashdod port, which the PA will deliver to the coastal enclave.

Meanwhile, officials of the Hamas-run government in Gaza said Monday that the government was exerting great efforts to end the power crisis.

Basim Naim, adviser to Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, told reporters Monday that there were attempts to buy fuel from Israel through the Palestinian Authority. He accused the PA of offering "unreasonable" fuel prices.

Naim also talked about promises his government received from Qatar and Turkey to work out a solution for the fuel and power crisis in the Gaza Strip. He mentioned the possible intervention of UNRWA as well.

On Monday, the head of a PA crossing committee, Nazmi Mhanna, announced a new plan to help ease the crisis.

Mhanna told Ma’an that the PA reached an agreement with the Israeli side to establish a new line for gas. He said the plan would be implemented in days.

Fuel shortages have caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt since early November, as power plants and water pumps are forced to shut down, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.

Lack of diesel fuel is a result of the tightening of a 7-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.

Until July of this year, tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

In the last year, however, the situation had greatly improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution. Since the coup against Egyptian president Morsi in July, however, Egypt has strictly enforced the blockade and targeted the tunnels.

Egyptian Maj. Gen. Ahmad Ibrahim said in October that nearly 800 tunnels had been destroyed since the beginning of the year at that time, while Rafah officials estimated in September that these operations had demolished 95 percent of previously existing tunnels.

Gaza Strip energy officials blame Egypt for destroying these tunnels while maintaining the larger economic blockade, along with Israel.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel since 2006.

The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.
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