"It will make a difference," said a Palestinian official. "... people may begin to feel there isn't a power crisis anymore."
By Celia Konstantellou
Rabat – A Qatari technical commission held talks in Israel and the Gaza Strip on Tuesday June 18. The commission discussed the funding of a new power line between Qatar and Gaza, marking a potential expansion of Doha’s aid endeavors for Palestinians.
In recent years, Qatar has funnelled millions of dollars into relief projects in Hamas-dominated Gaza, in an effort to alleviate the deprivation caused by the ongoing conflict with Israel.
Spearheading the Qatari drive has been envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi, a Qatari economist and businessman. This time, Al-Emadi was accompanied by Qatari electricity and water experts.
The Qatari experts met with the Israel Electric Corporation in Tel Aviv on Sunday, and in Gaza with energy officials, to discuss the Qatari offer to pay for the completion of a new Gaza electricity line.
“It will make a difference,” said a Palestinian official. “Maybe we will not have electricity 24/7, but people may begin to feel there isn’t a power crisis anymore.”
The new line, known as Line 161, would provide 100 megawatts to Gaza, which currently gets a total of 120 megawatts from Israel, short of the 500 megawatts to 600 megawatts that Palestinian authorities say the blockaded territory needs.
Besides preventing some of Gaza’s chronic blackouts, an improved electricity supply would also benefit power sewage pumps and hinder water contamination afflicting two million Palestinians.
So far, the intervention is approved by Israel but has gone largely unacknowledged by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, alongside U.S.-allied Arab leaders, has criticized Doha for its close ties to Iran and Islamist groups like Hamas.
An Israeli official said that the power line’s construction would take three years to complete and that it remains unclear whether the Netanyahu government will approve it. The prime minister’s office had no immediate comment.