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PA opens new West Bank power plant after striking deal with Israel over electricity sector

July 10, 2017 10:53 P.M. (Updated: July 11, 2017 11:59 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah inaugurated on Monday a power plant in the northern occupied West Bank, set to increase the electricity supply to the Jenin district.

Hamdallah said in his speech that the opening of the power plant came after months of efforts between the Palestinian and Israeli sides to gradually reach full Palestinian authority over the electricity sector in the occupied Palestinian territory.

“We demand that Israel assist in achieving our efforts to build power lines and stations and to enable us to continue developing the electricity sector and take advantage of natural resources in Area C to establish a successful system with all permits to connect the four (existing) stations,” he said.

More than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank was designated as Area C under the Oslo accords, placing the lands under complete Israeli military control where the Palestinian Authority (PA) has no control over infrastructure and resources.

Hamdallah expressed appreciation towards the funders of the project -- the European Union, Italy, Norway, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the European Investment Bank -- as well as towards Israel for facilitating the construction of the project.

The prime minister added that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was focused on developing the energy sector to meet the current and future needs of local market, lessen the costs of electricity, and make the Palestinian market less dependent on Israel.

Hamdallah said that the PA wanted to encourage private companies to get involved in the energy sector, including in renewable energy.
Hamdallah also mentioned the Gaza Strip, which has been undergoing even more devastating power cuts than usual in past weeks after the PA requested that Israel reduce its electricity supply to the besieged Palestinian territory over unpaid bills.

Hamdallah attributed the damage to Gaza’s infrastructure to the large drop in international funding to the blockaded enclave, which has affected Gaza’s ability to recover from the latest devastating conflict with Israel in 2014.

He seemingly did not mention the decade-long conflict between the PA and Hamas, the de facto leading party in Gaza, which is believed to have fueled the PA’s decision to cut electricity in order to pressure the resistance movement to relinquish control of the coastal territory.
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