Egypt to help with Gaza power shortages
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Egypt has agreed to help ease Gaza’s chronic power shortages as part of a three-stage plan that would eventually hook up the isolated territory to the regional grid, a Palestinian energy official said Monday.
Such a deal would represent a major leap in Cairo’s involvement in Hamas-ruled Gaza, and another step away from Egyptian cooperation with the Israeli blockade imposed after the militant group’s 2007 takeover.
Gaza has suffered frequent blackouts and fuel shortages since the blockade was imposed. Rolling power cuts intensified last week when Gaza’s only power plant shut down because of a growing shortage in black market fuel reaching the territory through underground tunnels.
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had sided with Israel in enforcing the Gaza blockade, trying to isolate the Islamists on his doorstep. However, since taking over last year, Egypt’s new rulers have eased Gaza’s isolation.
The Gaza energy deal, outlined by Palestinian officials on Monday, was struck between Egypt and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, a longtime Hamas rival. An Egyptian intelligence official said Hamas was also involved in the contacts.
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