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PA to Reduce Dependence on Israeli Electric Power Grid

Nov 3, 2008 - The Jerusalem Post - By The Media Line; Special to The Jerusalem Post

The Palestinian Authority has joined a seven-fold electric power grid, which will allow it to become less dependent on Israeli supply of electricity within four years.

The announcement was made earlier this week during a meeting of ministers of electricity and energy in the network member countries.

An interconnected electricity network, which includes Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Lebanon, decided to incorporate the Palestinian electricity system.

Palestinians living in the West Bank are almost entirely dependent on Israeli electricity (95 percent), while those who live in the Gaze Strip receive 60% of their power needs from Israel.

Jordanian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khaldoun Qteishat said the PA's accession to the now eight- fold electric grid would help the country face the challenges of providing safety and security of power supply.

"We are all invited to help Palestine recognize this goal," he said, according to the Jordanian official news agency Petra.

Palestinian Energy Authority general director Omar Kittana signed the agreement in Amman.

In an interview with The Media Line, Kittana said the agreement, which came after yearlong preparations, was "historic."

"This will reduce our dependence on Israel, but not entirely," he said, adding that the PA did not wish to separate itself completely from Israel Electric.

"The Palestinians are not obliged to take their electricity from any specific source. It is a diversification of sources of energy," Kittana said.

Laying the infrastructure that would connect the Palestinian electricity systems in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with those of Egypt and Jordan is expected to take four years.

Kittana refused to say how much electricity the PA would buy from Israel after its connection to the network was completed.

"The idea of interconnection is not to replace one source with the other," he said. "The idea is to optimize the sources and getting the electricity from the cheapest and highest-quality source. We will have the flexibility of choosing our sources."

In an interview with a Palestinian newspaper, Kittana said during the first stage, the Gaza Strip would draw 150 megawatts from Egypt, which is two-thirds of its power demands.

Israel today supplies Gaza with 120 megawatts.

An estimated $50 million is needed to finance the interconnection project. The Islamic Bank for Development has already promised to participate in the financing of the project, contributing $32m. Israel has given all the necessary approvals regarding the project.

Originally published by The Media Line, Special to The Jerusalem Post.

(c) 2008 The Jerusalem Post. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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