Israel’s Channel 10 television station said this week that the chairman of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas has rejected a proposal to build Gaza new electricity lines to support the power sector in the impoverished coastal enclave. The project reportedly received Israeli consent, but failed to get the green light from the PA. The Israeli station added that everything was ready and agreed about, until the PA declared its position of thwarting the plan without explanation.
Qatar has pledged to fund the project in an attempt to mitigate the severe power crisis in Gaza since 2006, when Hamas achieved a landslide victory in the Palestinian Legislative elections. European companies expressed willingness to implement the Qatar plan yet, the PA has intentionally missed the chance of substantially decrease the impact of the power crisis inside the Palestinian society in Gaza.
Hamas criticized Abbas for rejecting the long-awaited project. “Abbas is not willing to miss any occasion in which he can stave off his political foes, even if it is done at the expense of his people. This does not make difference with him at all,”Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zohri told Mondoweiss.
Abu-Zohri added that Abbas would not hesitate to torment his own people to achieve his ultimate purpose of strangling Hamas in Gaza as part of his political game. “He is switching roles with the Israeli occupation to strengthen and foster the blockade,” he said.
Abbas’s policy toward Gaza
Since Hamas took control in Gaza in 2007, Mahmoud Abbas has neglected the region resulting in multiple crises on nearly all facets of life. Fayz Au-Shamalah, a Palestinian commentator, told Mondoweiss, “He wants the Palestinians in Gaza to draw a comparison between their significantly deteriorating conditions under Hamas, and the good living conditions in the West Bank under his rule. Unfortunately, that is his logic.”
This has led Abbas to collude with Israel and Egypt to make the siege on Gaza more relentless. “Israel stated that it was Abbas who asked the Egyptians to flood Gaza’s smuggling tunnels. And he said himself that it is a right of Egypt’s to close Rafah crossing whenever it wants in accordance with its national security,” he added.
The Palestinian internal division is also to be blamed for the failure to impediment many foreign initiatives to help the Palestinian people. “Our friends do not know to whom they should go to carry out their plans that aim in easing the blockade on Gaza,”Au-Shamalah said.
Organizing the internal Palestinian house is an absolute priority, and it is up to the leaders of the Palestinian people to complete the reconciliation once and forever. “We should be one hand then we can struggle to take our rights,” Au-Shamalah concluded.
Most of the Palestinian parties have demanded Abbas explain his stance toward fixing Gaza’s acute power crisis.
Hani Thawabta, a leader at the Palestinian Front for Liberation Palestine (PFLP) demanded that Abbas clarify his stance over the issue if he is interested in answering the growing accusations made against him in the Palestinian street. He said that it could not be tolerated for Abbas to cause more problem in Gaza because of malicious political interests.
The electricity crisis in Gaza is part of the Israeli blockade imposed on the region since 2007. Also, in 2006 Israel shelled the only electricity station in Gaza and caused serious damage. During the summer conflict in 2014, a lot of electricity lines and gas stations were also hit by the Israeli military jets.
Fathi Khalil, the deputy of the Energy Authority based in Gaza says the crisis is clearly political. “Whenever we discuss ideas to combat the crisis and lessen its impact, we are faced with many barriers from all sides,” he said. He recalls when they discussed a plan to generate electricity through the solar power Israel rejected it calling it “inefficient” without even giving it a try.
As if that is not enough for Gaza, the Palestinian government in Ramallah imposes high taxes on the electricity company in Gaza, which has loaded it with huge debts.
The Palestinian official added that Gaza needs about 500 megawatt on daily basis, but is only currently allowed to have 220. This has resulted in long hours of power outage that sometimes reach 12 hours a day.
Gaza has three main sources of electricity. The Israeli lines provide 120 mw, and Egypt provides a mount that does not exceed 50 mw to the southern areas in the strip, like Rafah. The local station in Gaza can hardly generate 60 mw due to the lack of gas needed in operating the station. It has four generators, only two of them can be operated.
According to Abu-Zohri, Abbas is succeeding in being viewed not only a political failure, but also ethical failure in the collective Palestinian awareness as he has failed to be at the side of his people yet another time.