The electricity grid in the Palestinian Authority-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria will be connected to Jordan, the head of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Power and Natural Resources Authority said Wednesday.
The Ma’an news agency reported that the move is part of an initiative to interconnect power usage in the Arab world.
According to the head of the PA body, Omar Kittanah, electricity grids in Jericho have already been connected to those in Jordan as part of the Eight Country Interconnection Project, which includes Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, and the PA, and is expected to be completed over the next three years.
The most recent project phase, submitted by the Palestinian Power and Natural Resources Authority and approved by Palestinian cabinet ministers Tuesday, will seek to build a high tension line feeding Jordan with enough capacity to power all of Judea and Samaria in the coming few years.
A separate line will eventually be built to send electricity from the region to the Eight Country Grid via Jordan in the future, pending Palestine's access to power sources, Kittanah said, according to Ma’an.
The PA has started to look for funding for the Jordan-Palestine connection, which is expected to cost around $100 million, the report said.
Given that member states have special funds for supporting economic and development projects, funding the project will not be difficult to obtain, Kittanah said.
The connection will improve the quality of electricity while also reducing the price, he added.
Kittanah said Gaza's power lines will be connected to Egypt as part of the Eight Country Grid Interconnection, with funding for the connection already secured.
The announcement should be welcomed by Israel, assuming it means the PA will no longer use the electricity that is supplied by Israel.
The PA has been acquiring 95% of its electricity in Judea and Samaria and 75% of its electricity in Gaza from the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), but has failed to pay the bill.
In January, the IEC announced that "due to a mounting debt worth nearly 1.8 billion shekels ($459 million), we have decided that…electrical supply will be cut," with the cut to include an hour each morning and another hour at night, until the PA starts to pay up.
The sides later reached a temporary settlement, stipulating that the PA would transfer some 300 million shekel (about $75,800) in tax money to the IEC in exchange for a halt on the blackouts.