Israel is to begin importing natural gas into the Gaza Strip to power its sole power station, as part of an international agreement signed Sunday that was brokered by Qatar, the European Union and the United Nations.
The deal, which has been years in the making, is set to improve the Palestinian enclave's abysmal electrical infrastructure, which frequently employs blackouts in order to conserve scarce resources.
Today, Israel sells 120 megawatts of daily electricity to the Gaza Strip. The diesel-powered power plant in the Strip produces an additional 90 megawatts, while various solar facilities constructed in the Strip produce another 30.
All in all, the Strip is currently getting 240 megawatts of electricity per day, while the power consumption for the entire Strip stands at 500 megawatts, leading to limited periods with power in the Strip every day.
The agreement requires final approval from Israel, but that seems to have been granted as Qatari envoy to Gaza Mohammed al-Emadi has already published an official statement on the deal.
According to al-Emadi, the deal is split into two parts.
The first section stipulates that Israeli energy conglomerate Delek will sell the gas to the Palestinian Authority, which in turn will ship it to Gaza.
The second section includes the construction of a pipeline from Israel to Gaza's power plant. The EU will allocate $5 million to its construction inside the Palestinian enclave, while Qatar will fund its building within Israeli territory.
The agreement was made while intensive efforts were underway by Israel, Hamas and international mediators to negotiate a ceasefire that would be in effect for at least one year.
It is yet unclear whether the project will be conditioned on the release of the two Israeli prisoners and the bodies of two IDF soldiers held by Hamas in Gaza.