After years of negotiations, a plan to bring Israeli gas to Gaza is nearing completion

An agreement to supply Israeli natural gas to Gaza in a bid to resolve the coastal electricity crisis is likely to be reached within the next six months, Qatari ambassador Mohammad al-Emadi said in a statement on Sunday.

Gaza has been suffering from a harmful electricity shortage for more than a decade. The coastline has only one power station – which runs on imported diesel fuel – and experiences between eight and eight hours a day.

The transition of Gaza from diesel to natural gas is widely seen as an important solution to the electricity crisis of circulation. Negotiations on a natural gas pipeline have been in the works for years, with no clear timeline for success; the pipeline is expected to connect Gaza’s power plant to Israel’s offshore power station.

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“There are two contracts here: one is the purchase of the gas, between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Delek corporation. The other contract is to install a gas line, ”said al-Emadi.

That natural gas is expected to come from the Leviathan field off the coast of Israel, according to a Delek spokesman. Delek will also be in charge of laying down a distribution system for the pipeline.

It was unclear whether Delek would be paid out of Qatari’s finances, as Qatar does not have a formal relationship with Israel. Delek declined to comment further.

The Qatari ambassador to the Gaza Strip, Mohammed al-Emadi, will speak at an interview in his office with AFP in Gaza City on 24 August 2019. (Mahmud Hams / AFP)

With the permission of Israel, Qatar from 2018 has from time to time provided millions of dollars in cash to the rulers of Gazas Hamas to pay for fuel for the Strip power plant, finance infrastructure projects, and support tens of thousands of Gazan families.

Al-Emadi, which regularly travels between Israel, Qatar, and Gaza, with money and messages from Doha, has been an unofficial broker between the three sides. He visited Israel and the Gaza Strip last week for the first time in several months to deliver a new round of support and meet with Israeli and Hamas officials.

According to al-Emadi, the use of natural gas, rather than relatively more expensive diesel fuel, will significantly reduce the cost paid by the Palestinian Authority and Qatar in fuel subsidies to the coastal enclave.

“The pipeline will reduce the [annual] the cost of electricity ranges from $ 22 million to less than $ 10 million, ”said al-Emadi.

The European Union has allocated $ 5 million to pay for part of the pipeline, although it has not yet been completed. Qatar will pay to build the pipeline within Israeli territory, al-Emadi said.

“The importance of this project is not only to largely allow it to meet the energy demands of the Gaza Strip. It will also help power Gaza’s de-firing plant, ensuring access to clean water for many Gazans, “said Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, EU ambassador to the Palestinians.

Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff (C), head of the European Union mission to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, along with other EU representatives, will visit a de-firing plant in Deir al-Balah in the middle of the Gaza Strip on 8 December 2020. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Contrary to reports in Israeli media, however, an agreement has not yet been officially signed between Israel, Qatar, the European Union, and the Palestinian Authority to supply natural gas to Gaza, Kühn von Burgsdorff said.

He said he expected the agreements to be completed “within the next few months.”

“All of these parties want to move forward on this,” Kühn von Burgsdorff said in a phone call.

In a statement, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said the proposed agreement would “reduce regional air pollution.”

“Any agreement reached to bring natural gas from Israel to the Gaza power plant is done with our full coordination,” Steinitz said in a statement.

Al-Emadi said he expects the pipeline to be completed within the next couple of years. Although Kühn von Burgsdorff was reluctant to provide a timeline, he expressed hope that the long – awaited project could be completed in the coming months.

“Everything has to fall into place in the coming months,” he said. “We look forward to formalizing the interests and commitments of all four parties. We look forward to progress, because it is goodbye everyone. “

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