Israel is considering a plan proposed by Qatar to supply the energy-strapped Gaza Strip with natural gas.
The plan would see Israel laying a new pipeline from Ashdod, where gas from the offshore Tamar field enters the country, to the lone power station in the Gaza Strip, located only a handful of kilometers to the south.
The Gaza station, which currently can supply Gazans with electricity for only eight hours each day, would be converted to work with the natural gas, expanding its output dramatically.
The Gaza Strip currently produces only some 28 percent of the electricity it consumes. Out of 212 megawatts used by Gazans, 60 are produced in the territory, 120 are produced in Israel and 32 in Egypt.
The plan was proposed by Muhammad al-Ahmadi, head of Qatar’s committee for rehabilitating Gaza. Ahmadi visited Gaza several times in recent weeks, and is currently residing in the coastal territory. He met last week with the IDF’s liaison to the Palestinians, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, to discuss the plan.
Another meeting between the two is expected next week.
There are conflictng reports conflict on the willingness of Israel to move ahead with the plan. The Ynet news site reports that the political echelon in Israel has given the go-ahead, and COGAT is examining routes for laying the pipeline. Meanwhile, Israel Radio reports that the cabinet has asked for staff work and feasibility studies, but has not okayed the initiative.
Under Ahmadi’s proposal, Qatar would pay NIS 38.6 million ($10 million) toward infrastructure costs such as laying the pipeline. The gas itself would be paid for by the Palestinian Authority and private Palestinian funders under its auspices.
Ahmadi has also begun talks with private Israeli solar power companies to construct solar power fields in Israeli territory to produce 100 megawatts for Gaza’s use.