PA Charges Hamas With Politicizing Gaza Power Crisis (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Gavriel Queenann 02/23/12)
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The head of the Palestinian Authority energy authority charges Hamas
with politicizing the Gaza electricity crisis during ongoing
negotiations with Egypt.
Asked about allegations that he threatened employees at the energy
authority in Gaza, Omar Kittana said, “I refuse to comment on this as
we have reached an impermissible point. I was afraid of
politicization of this issue."
"We have been exerting efforts with the Egyptians for the sake of
serving our people in the Gaza Strip, to provide them with
electricity rather than serving the interests of any party," Kittana
He added his efforts were focused only on solving the electricity
crisis "regardless of any political considerations and bickering."
Kittana says he expects the crisis in Gaza to come to an end very
soon, and he highlighted that a joint committee of Egyptians and PA
representatives has been appointed to order mechanisms for shipping
fuel from Egypt to Gaza.
A draft agreement has been put forward according to which Gaza’s
power plant will receive fuel. Shipment will be from Suez “through
official crossings,” he said.
Egypt is also negotiating a staged plan with officials in Ramallah
that would ultimately connect Gaza to the regional power grid,
leading to friction with Hamas who wants to control the negotiations.
The new Gaza energy deal comes after Gaza´s power station went dark
on February 14 due to a shortage of diesel fuel for its generators.
The current crisis was brought on when sources of black market fuel
being shipped to Gaza through Egypt´s Sinai Peninsula dried up after
Egyptian authorities started to crack down.
"Egyptian officials said we should put an end to this problem and
legalize the process and not leave it to the black market and
smuggling," Omar Kittaneh, who heads the PA Energy Authority, told
Hamas has sought to blame Israel for the current energy crisis citing
Israel´s arms embargo on Gaza. However, observers note that fuel is
one of the items that flows through the Kerem Shalom crossing from
Israel to Gaza.
However, officials from the United Nations agency for humanitarian
affairs (OCHA) say Gaza has not relied on gas imports from Israel for
some time and that the shortage emanates from Egypt, which refuses to
open the Rafiah crossing.
"Palestinians gradually developed tunnel infrastructure allowing the
transfer of large quantities of fuel into Gaza, at a cheaper price,
which resulted in an almost complete halt in the purchase from
Israel," OCHA said.
Israel´s arms embargo on Gaza, which the UN Palmer Report concluded
was both legitimate and lawful as a means of protecting its citizens,
was tightened after Hamas seized Gaza in a bloody 2007 putsch.
Prior to the 2007 Hamas takeover of Gaza, Israel provided 120mw of
electricity – and fuel for the local generator to produce 70mw of
electricity – at market rates, which PA officials called "excessive."
(IsraelNationalNews © 2012 02/23/12)
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