Thursday, February 23, 2012

PA accuses Hamas of politicizing Gaza fuel crisis

PA accuses Hamas of politicizing Gaza fuel crisis

From Ma'an:
The chair of the Palestinian Authority energy authority Omar Kittana says the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip is politicizing the electricity crisis in an attempt to score political points.

Asked about accusations that he threatened employees at the energy authority in Gaza, Kittana said, “I refuse to comment on this as we have reached an impermissible point. I was afraid of politicization of this issue.

"We have been exerting efforts with the Egyptians for the sake of serving our people in the Gaza Strip, to provide them with electricity rather than serving the interests of any party."

He added that his department’s efforts were focused only on solving the electricity crisis regardless of any political considerations and bickering.

Kittana says he expects the crisis in Gaza to come to an end very soon, and he highlighted that a joint committee of Egyptians and Palestinians has been appointed to discuss the possible mechanisms for shipping fuel from Egypt to the strip.

A draft agreement has been put forward according to which Gaza’s power plant will receive fuel. Shipment will be from Suez “through official crossings.”
The only "official" crossings would be Kerem Shalom or a revamped commercial Rafah crossing that doesn't exist yet. I don't know how difficult it would be to transfer that amount of fuel through trucks every day at Rafah; my guess is that it would impact on civilian traffic through the crossing.

A Palestine Today article says that the fuel could be transferred either through Rafah or through Kerem Shalom.

Hamas had already rejected having the fuel go through Israel - something Egypt originally proposed - but there is really little choice at the moment.

Reading between the lines, it looks like Hamas caved and will allow the fuel to go through Israel.

A couple of hours after I wrote this, I see that Ma'an's article was revised to verify what I wrote:
Currently the only terminals designated for fuel are via Israel, but the Hamas government in Gaza has been bypassing them for over a year by pumping gas through tunnels from the Sinai. The draft agreement would resume transferring fuel through the Israeli crossings, which are more stable than the tunnels.