´Real relief for Gaza energy crisis within 5 months´ (JERUSALEM POST) By JPOST COM STAFF 03/22/12)
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Egyptian Ambassador to the Palestinian territories Yasser Othman said
Wednesday that the Gaza Strip will be connected to Egypt´s power grid
within four to five months in a development that will alleviate an
energy crisis that has plagued the Strip for the last three months.
Speaking with Saudi Arabian newspaper Al-Sharq, Othman said that
Egypt and Gaza would begin work on connecting their power grids
within the next few weeks.
"This will lead to a real relief for the deepening crisis in the Gaza
Strip," Othman said.
Othman explained that Gaza´s fuel needs in order to close their
energy deficit are equal to the needs of four small Egyptian
provinces, "due to the higher standard of living in the Strip
compared to some cities and provinces here."
The Egyptian envoy said Cairo had graciously agreed to provide fuel
to Gaza after a diesel deficit in Egypt had been exacerbated by fuel
smuggling to the Gaza Strip.
Underground smuggling tunnels served as the main portal through which
Gaza had received fuel, and those fuel imports were taxed by the
The plan to end Gaza´s power crisis is a two-phase program, Othman
explained. The first phase requires Egypt to provide diesel to power
Gaza´s sole power plant, which Gazan authorities have shut down three
times in the last few months due to the lack of fuel.
The second phase will connect Gaza to a regional power grid that
includes eight Middle Eastern countries, Othman said. That phase,
which the Islamic Development Bank in Jedda agreed to fund, will take
18 months to complete in full, according to the Egyptian envoy.
The energy crisis in Gaza, which has caused rolling blackouts at
times lasting up to 18 hours a day, sparked rare political bickering
between the authorities in Gaza and Cairo.
Hamas officials accused Egypt of “political extortion” due to the
latter’s insistence on supplying fuel to the Gaza Strip through
Othman downplayed tensions, saying "perhaps there are some
differences caused by different assessments on both sides."
Still, Othman said, relations between the two governments
are "strong," and based on "not interfering in the internal affairs
of either side." Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report (©
1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/22/12)
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