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EXCLUSIVE: Israel's full $1bn wish list to save Gaza from humanitarian collapse

The impoverished Gaza Strip, where Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah will visit next week, has suffered from severe electricity shortages
MAHMUD HAMS (AFP)
New desalination plant in the Gaza Strip will cost $710m; Israel explores expanding Erez border crossing

Israel presented an international committee coordinating Palestinian development aid with a $1 billion list of major infrastructure projects designed to relieve an urgent humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, with a request for international financing, at a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) in Brussels on Wednesday.

According to a document detailing the proposed projects obtained exclusively by i24NEWS, Israel has put forth a plan for a large desalination plant in the Gaza Strip at a cost of $710 million.

The document reveals that Israel is seeking $36 million to expand the Gaza Strip's connection to the electric grid with a new power line, and $80 million to progress with a major project to connect the coastal enclave to natural gas from Israeli gas fields.

Signaling a major shift in policy, the document also reveals an un-costed plan to expand the Erez border crossing -- currently only a pedestrian crossing -- to facilitate the transfer of commercial goods in and out of Gaza.

The list was presented to donor countries at the AHLC by Israeli Major-General Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the defense ministry unit which coordinates with the international community on all civilian, humanitarian, and infrastructure matters relating to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

According to Haaretz, Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzahi Hangebi, who together which Mordechai represented Israel at the Brussels confab, told attendees that implementing the plans would require the Palestinian Authority to take full responsibility for civil affairs in the Gaza Strip, which has been under Hamas control since 2007.

The AHLC is a conference of the major donor countries to the Palestinian Authority, chaired by Norway, which meets twice yearly. But an emergency session of the committee was convened by Norway and the European Union on Wednesday, citing the “urgent need” to expedite progress towards a negotiated two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as the need to enable the Palestinian Authority to resume full control of the Gaza Strip.

The meeting comes as the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, warned that "we are on the verge of a total systems collapse in Gaza, with the full collapse of the economy [and] social services".

MOHAMMED ABED (AFP)

The Israeli document stipulates that the Gaza Central Desalination Plant and associated infrastructure will cost $710 million, with $250 million in additional funding still needed. The plant will provide 55 million m³ of water to alleviate Gaza’s protracted water shortage.

The Palestinian Authority estimates that 97% of the Strip's groundwater is not potable, contaminated with seawater and sewage, and has begun groundwork for the plant. Israel has committed to allowing necessary materials to enter, and Kuwait has donated $50m for construction.

The document reveals other Israeli plans to relieve Gaza’s water shortages in coordination with the PA and with international support, including plans for atmospheric water units (to create water out of humid air), water reclamation, and the doubling of the capacity of the Northern Gaza Emergency Sewage Treatment plant.

Israel also raised the need for $80 million to advance the connection of the Gaza Strip to natural gas, a major international project designed to meet Gaza’s energy needs. In addition, it sought $36 million to connect the Gaza Strip to a new power line, known as the 161 kV line, which the Office of the Quartet considers an important measure to bridge Gaza’s needs until the gas pipeline is up and running.

SAID KHATIB (AFP/File)

The line is estimated to ultimately deliver 100 MW, almost doubling the total electricity provision from Israel to the Gaza Strip, and to reduce the Palestinian Authority’s energy bills for Gaza. Also in the energy sector, Israel flagged the need for $31.5 million for various solar energy projects in the Gaza Strip to top-up these initiatives.

Finally, the document reveals that Israel is promoting marine agriculture for Gaza, vis-à-vis the installation of fish cages in the Mediterranean Sea to help support local fishermen despite restrictions on how far the Israeli Navy permits them to fish off the Gazan coast. It further hints that Israel intends to facilitate a ‘monitored industrial zone’, to promote industrial production inside the Gaza Strip and help its ailing economy.

An Israeli diplomat present at the AHLC Conference told i24NEWS that none of the donor countries made immediate pledges at the conference to meet the funding shortfall, despite an EU pledge for €42.5 million to support Palestinian state-building, including €15 million to support the Palestinian presence in East Jerusalem.

Below is the full list of projects, according to the document seen by i24NEWS:

Energy Sector:

- Solar power for water and sewage systems ($4.5 million)

- Establishing 161 kV line ($36 million)

- Solar power for the Khan Yunis wastewater treatment plant ($14 million)

- Photovoltaic (PV) plants in South Gaza ($10 million)

- Natural gas to the Gaza Strip ($80 million)

- Solar power for healthcare facilities ($3 million)

- Diesel reservoir for Gaza Power Plant ($10 million)

Water and Sewage:

- Large Desalination Plant & infrastructure (€570 million) with €200 additional funding required)

- Desalination Plant 55 MCM (€215 million)

- Water infrastructure (€180 million)

- Power and operating costs (€168 million)

- Atmospheric water units ($3.5 million)

- Water reclamation ($20 million)

- Doubling NGEST’s capacity [sewage treatment plant] ($15 million)

Trade and Industry:

- MIZ Monitored Industrial Zone

- Increasing agricultural exports

- Marine agriculture

- Building medical capacity

- Expanding the Erez crossing to accommodate goods

Eylon Aslan-Levy is an anchor and correspondent at i24NEWS.

Comments

(7)

IL build where Islamofascists spread destrucand mayhem & the UN condemns IL ALL the time.

How about the Palestinians stop paying terrorists, stop digging tunnels, stop the leaders’ kleptocracy, grow up, and build their own infrastructure at their own expense!!

the pali's fate being in the hands of Fatah and Hamas explains all their suffering and dying.

This is a master stroke of the Israelis The whole world can see how the terrifying Hamas “Government” has failed the people of Gaza. By using donated building materials to build terror tunnels and stealing international aid money, Hamas thugs have completely wrecked Gaza Israel to the rescue!! Let’s pray that grip of the Hamas thugs on power in Gaza will be BROKEN! Only Ha Shem can do this Hamas and other violent jihadi Islamic entities will never of their own accord put down their weapons and let the PA from Ramallah take over..... Gazans deserve better! Jeff. Leeds (UK)

Why are we giving them money? They have money to buy bombs and rocks to harm us. They should be left alone to their own devices. They should get help from their Arab or Europe friends. This money should be used to help poor Jewish families.

Enough entertainment! Israel and Egypt should definitely chase all terrorists in Gaza togheter and Israeli will invest in public infrastructures while israeli businessmen will create some thousands of companies there that will employ 200,000 palestinian workers representing 200,000 palestinian families, this at least.

Israel will not assume responsibility for Gaza and its people, as it rightfully should. It was, after all, their ethnic cleansing that made Gaza into the massive Konzentrationlager that it is today. On the other hand, Israel seems very eager to PROFIT from the humanitarian crisis that it has single-handedly created.

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