Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan said Jerusalem should cut off the power supply to the Gaza Strip, instead using the energy to stave off an expected power shortage in Israel this summer.
Speaking to Army Radio Sunday morning, Erdan said Israel should also consider cuts to Palestinians in the West Bank.
Ahead of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, during which a discussion on energy will be held, Erdan sent a letter to his fellow cabinet members recommending that in case of a power shortage in Israel, the electricity supply to Gaza be halted. Erdan said that if power to Gaza were to be cut, Israel would save 4% of its electricity production.
“It would be absurd if at the same time as there is a terrorist regime next to us which doesn’t pay its bills, that there will be power outages [here],” Erdan said. “In my opinion… since the disengagement we no longer have to supply the [Gaza] Strip with their needs. We are a moral country, and I do believe that water and energy are basic needs; however, when we ourselves do not have enough electricity, I don’t see any legal commitment.”
MK Dov Henin (Hadash), chairman of the Knesset Health and Environment Committee, sharply criticized Erdan’s proposal, telling reporters: “Minister Erdan suggests that we halt electricity supply to Gaza, and punish the Palestinians for our own problems managing our energy industry. Instead of this, what we really need to do is implement a real plan of efficiency and energy savings and expand our use of renewable energy.”
The price of electricity increased by 8.9% last month due to a dramatic rise in the price of natural gas. At the time, the Israel Electric Corporation warned the public that it feared it wouldn’t be able to meet energy demands this summer.
The current energy crisis is a function of ever-growing demand and dwindling supply, in part due to regional factors. A reduced supply of natural gas — largely because of repeated terrorist attacks that have shut down a crucial pipeline from Egypt — means that energy production could well fall below the country’s needs in the coming months, the electric company said.
Egypt recently canceled the deal to supply gas with Israel.