The United Nations and Israel agree: The electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip—occurring after the Palestinian Authority requested that Israel cut supply due to lack of funding from Hamas in Gaza—is an “internal Palestinian” matter. U.N. Resident Coordinator assigned to the Palestinians, Robert Piper, was quoted by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs website as saying on Wednesday that “the people in Gaza should not be held hostage to this longstanding internal Palestinian dispute.”
That language is almost identical to how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the situation one day before. “It needs to be understood that the issue of electricity in Gaza is subject to a disagreement between the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) and Hamas,” said Netanyahu in comments from his office on Tuesday. “Hamas is demanding that the P.A. pay for the electricity and the P.A. is refusing to do so. This is an internal Palestinian argument.” And while Israel is a key provider of electricity to Gaza, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman made it clear it’s not their decision to cut the power—in fact, they are “definitely ready to provide.”
In an interview posted to the website for the Israeli office that handles the Palestinian areas, Lieberman said, “The electricity crisis is a Palestinian crisis, the leaderships who need to pay for the electricity are Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. We are not a part of the equation, if they pay for the electricity they will receive the electricity and if they don’t pay for the electricity they won’t receive the electricity.”
Piper included Israel in the list of groups that can do something to ease the suffering in Gaza, and Lieberman, according to the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories interview, said that Israel is definitely open to that if Hamas will stop waging a terror war against Israel.
“Hamas is trying to elude responsibility for its failures and point the finger at Israel—but it is quite the opposite,” said Lieberman. “Israel is ready to build industrial zones, create work positions and be a partner in constructing desalination facilities and power plants, but the base requirement for this is demilitarization. If there is demilitarization, there will be rehabilitation.”
Israel and Gaza have fought multiple wars since Hamas took power in the Strip in 2006. The Palestinian terror organization has launched thousands of rockets at Israel, dug tunnels into Israel to attempt terror attacks, as well as other acts of aggression.
Lieberman noted that Hamas collects more than $28 million per month in Gaza taxes, but it isn’t helping the people even as the P.A. accuses Hamas of not transferring all the payments for electricity, according to a report in the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency.
Said Lieberman of the Gaza taxes, “Instead of going to the education system, to improving the health system, to improving infrastructure and water—it is all going towards tunnels and rockets.”
The difficult situation in Gaza—already bad due to Hamas activities there—is likely to get much worse. Piper was quoted by the U.N. website as saying. “A further increase in the length of blackouts is likely to lead to a total collapse of basic services, including critical functions in the health, water and sanitation sectors.”
The United States agrees, but points the figure at Hamas. “We continue to underscore the need for international support for Gaza’s recovery and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Heather Nauert in comments on Tuesday published by the Department. “But no one should lose sight of the fact, of this fact, that Hamas bears the greatest responsibility for the current situation in Gaza.”
Terming the tax money taken by Hamas as “stolen from the residents of Gaza”, Lieberman had an answer for how the people could recover.
“This cannot be permitted,” said Lieberman of Hamas’ spending Gazan taxes on weapons and not on the Gazan needs. “Therefore, you must turn to the leadership of Hamas and demand them to stop their terror activities, to stop investing in tunnels and rockets. Demand from Hamas to invest money into the education and healthcare system.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, July 15, 2017)