Gaza's power distribution company said yesterday supplies to the territory's 2 million residents have dropped to unprecedented lows, with blackouts lasting for more than 24 hours. While the Palestinian enclave needs at least 400 megawatts of power a day, only 70 are available since Gaza's power plant shut down late Wednesday.
Diesel fuel from neighboring Egypt had kept the station running at half capacity since June 21, but deliveries were interrupted after a deadly attack on Egyptian soldiers last week near the border. Israel, the main provider of power to Gaza, has cut shipments at the request of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian leader is trying to put pressure on Gaza's Hamas rulers. Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas' forces a decade ago.
One of the most pressing challenges is power. Gaza needs at least 450 megawatts of electricity a day, but is now receiving 120 MW, partly because of the dispute between Hamas and the PA and a lack of internal power-generating capacity. By 2020, if growth picks up, Gaza will require up to 850 MW a day, but supplies are unlikely to top 360 MW.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy announced an Israeli-Palestinian water agreement yesterday. Under that deal, which aims to increase fresh water supplies for Jordan, the Palestinians and Israel and revitalize the Dead Sea's falling water levels, Israel agreed to increase water sales to the Palestinian Authority by 20 million to 30 million cubic meters a year.
Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, estimated it would take another four to five years to complete the $900 million endeavor.
The desalination plant will produce at least 80 million cubic meters of water annually. Under an agreement signed with Jordan in 2015, Israel will buy up to 40 million cubic meters of that at cost each year.
Trump envoy Greenblatt said Israel, whose own desalination plants have led to a water surplus, would sell up to 33 million cubic meters to the Palestinian Authority as part of the finalized agreement signed yesterday.
Palestinian Water Authority head Mazen Ghoneim put the figure at 32 million and said 22 million would go to the Israeli-occupied West Bank and 10 million to the Gaza Strip.
The idea of a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea was first talked about by the British in the 1850s, as an alternative to the Suez Canal. Many plans have since been proposed, mainly aiming to preserve the Dead Sea, whose minerals are used in ointments and cosmetics.
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