A long-rumored gas pipline to Gaza got a go-ahead Thursday, as Qatar's Chairman of the Committee to Rehabilitate Gaza, Mohammed al-Amadi, said that a deal to build the pipeline to bring gas from Mediterranean fields to Gaza had been finalized. The plan is awaiting Israel's approval. Israel has not opposed the discussions between Qatar and the Palestinian Authority.
The project was first announced last June when Hamas deputy politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh said that Israel had agreed to providing a gas pipeline to Gaza's power plant, which has been shut down on numerous occasions. Haniyeh said at the time that Israel had agreed to an arrangement by which it will provide gas to the local power plant, with several methods of moving the gas to Gaza being considered.
The gas will come from two areas in the Mediterranean the PA has claimed as belonging to it, due to its location in what it claims as Gaza's territorial water. The gas is being drawn out of its underground depository via two wells, which were developed in 1999 with the approval of Israel.
The gas wells are managed by British Gas, to which then-PA head Yasser Arafat granted the concession for developing Gaza's gas supply. However, production from the wells stopped over a decade ago, as the company was unable to find customers to buy the gas. The Qatari pipeline would enable Gaza to draw on the wells in order to supply gas to its electricity plant, which runs on natural gas.
An additional reason for the delay in developing the gas has been the internal tension in the PA between Hamas and Fatah, with the Gaza terror group claiming ownership of the wells. It's not clear with whom Qatar signed a contract. The office of Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas has not yet commented on the announcement.