Israel to Gaza pipeline deal reached; Europe, Qatar to foot bill

Qataris to build pipeline to supply Israeli natural gas to Gaza with completion hoped for by 2024.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

An agreement has been reached on the construction of a natural gas pipeline to the Gaza Strip in a deal involving the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Israel, the UN and the European Union, the Palestinian Sama News Agency reported Sunday.

Qatar’s envoy to Gaza, Mohamed Al-Emadi, said the deal will supply Israeli natural gas to Gaza’s only power plant to stabilize the electricity situation where Gazans currently receive only a few hours of power each day.

Al-Emadi said the talks involved the Israeli-American joint venture Chevron-Delek, the UN Quartet and the UN’s new coordinator for the peace process Tor Winsland, the European Union and specifically France and the Netherlands, along with the head of the Palestinian Energy Authority.

“It was agreed with the Europeans, who allocated $5 million, to install gas pipelines from the [Israeli border] to the power plant, while the State of Qatar will take care of installing the pipes on the Israeli side,” Al-Emadi said in a statement reported by Sama, adding that the pipeline project will cost $60 million.

The envoy said it was hoped to sign the two contracts for the project within six months, the first between the Palestinian Authority and Delek for the purchase of gas, and the second for extending the existing gas pipelines from Israel into Gaza.

“This is another economic development whose sole purpose is to increase the price of Hamas’ loss and strengthen the security of the residents of the south,” tweeted Knesset member Yair Golan of the left-wing Meretz Party, a former deputy commander of the IDF.

Golan noted that once Gazans started receiving the gas the Hamas terror group that controls Gaza would be under greater pressure if the gas got cut off due to Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli towns and cities.

Golan pointed out that the deal did not include the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul who were killed in Gaza in 2014. The Hamas terror group that controls Gaza is holding the bodies and two Israeli civilian hostages hoping to exchange them for hundreds of convicted terrorists in Israeli jails.

“It is a pity that this important progress is not conditioned on the return of our sons held by Hamas. This moral debt does not interest Netanyahu,” Golan tweeted, trying to link the deal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has promised to return the hostages and the bodies.

Al-Emadi said the increased power from the gas pipeline would also save the Palestinians millions in fuel costs, as the power plant currently uses more expensive fuel oil.

The Qatari envoy is known for mediating between Israel and Hamas, and for being the monthly courier of tens of millions of dollars in cash that Qatar distributes monthly to Gazans. Hamas seized power in a bloody 2007 military coup, but has shown little interest in building an economy and Gaza’s unemployment rate remains over 50%.

Al-Emadi said the hundreds of millions of dollars Qatar has pumped into Gaza has worked, noting that there have been no major conflicts since 2014.