Leaders from Israel and the Palestine Authority have agreed on a deal to build a natural gas pipeline from Israel into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, according to The Times of Israel.
Currently, Gaza faces an acute shortage of energy, with local utility authorities an 8-hour on, 8-hour off pattern to curb power usage as the occupied territory’s sole power plant regularly runs at half of its 140 MW capacity.
The Israeli government approved the project on Tuesday, according to a Palestinian source who spoke to the Israeli publication.
Several foreign countries will participate in funding the construction of the pipeline, and the committee of donor states will meet in New York later this month.
“We want to help the population of Gaza and the first step is to improve the supply of energy and water… including laying a gas pipeline,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a visit to The Netherlands earlier this month.
The Netherlands has been a key player in facilitating a feasibility study for the pipeline in cooperation with the Mideast Quartet – the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.
Several other major debt and development deals between the PA and Israel closed earlier this week.
The PA’s debt to the state-owned Israeli Electric Corporation had climbed to $530 million over the past 10 years. A new agreement announced Tuesday will allow the PA to make a one-time payment of $132 million and pay off the rest in 48 installments, according to AFP.
Another deal paved the way for international mail to enter the PA directly through international borders instead of being routed through Israeli mail first. An additional agreement will allow the development of 3G capabilities in the West Bank.