‘The current crisis didn’t begin in 2017, and can’t be viewed in separation from a decade of closure.’
Israeli non-profit Gisha and blogger, activist and independent cross-party consultant on Israel-Palestine Gary Spedding respond to a recent statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in regard to the Palestinian electricity crisis. Both point out that, in Gisha’s words, the Minister’s response ‘completely disregards Israel’s responsibility for the current situation and its complicity, given that it is Israel with its hand on the switch.’
On the 20th of June the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade wrote this in response to questions asked about the electricity crisis in Gaza:
“Israel is not the primary actor in this dispute over electricity supplies to Gaza, which is primarily one between the Palestinian Authority and the de facto Hamas authorities in Gaza, who still control the Strip. For some years Hamas has charged customers in Gaza for electricity supplied from Israel, but refused to pass these revenues to the Palestinian Authority, which pays Israel to supply the electricity. No government can be expected to tolerate this situation indefinitely.
The Palestinian Authority has decided to reduce the amount of electricity it pays Israel to supply to Gaza, and the reported decision by Israel to reduce electricity supply is a consequence of that.
Notwithstanding the basis for the problem, the humanitarian consequences for Gaza will obviously be potentially very severe, and may arise very quickly. Mains electricity supply, already averaging only four hours per day following the shutdown in April of the only power plant in Gaza due to a dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas over fuel supplies, is expected to be cut to as little as two hours per day. Additional power can only be provided by generators, which are not designed to run full time and for which fuel is in any case short. The consequences not just for household supply, but for pumping of water and sewage, and supplies to hospitals, schools and other utilities, are obvious.
I call clearly for all parties who have a part in this issue the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Israel to act promptly and realistically to resolve this dispute, in the interests of the people of Gaza. Ultimately, full responsibility for electricity supply and billing in Gaza should be in the hands of the Palestinian Authority.
Above and beyond these issues, there are also the wider questions of the overall restrictions on Gaza, including the delays in admitting materials to repair the Gaza power plant. Primary responsibility for these problems, which have already made living conditions in Gaza extremely difficult, does rest with Israel, and I repeat the consistent call of the European Union for the lifting of restrictions on Gaza.” – Simon Coveney 20th June 2017.
Gisha have kindly analysed this statement from the Minister and provided the following response:
The response echoes Netanyahu’s sentiment that the electricity crisis is an internal Palestinian issue, completely disregarding Israel’s responsibility for the current situation and its complicity, given that it is Israel with its hand on the switch.
It is important not to Israel’s role and challenge its self-proclaimed bystander status. Perhaps it’d be useful to refer to our letter to Lieberman, which addresses this point: