Israel threatens to cut Gaza water, power
Israel has threatened to cut the supply of water and electricity to the Gaza Strip if rival Palestinian movements, Fatah and Hamas, establish a unity government.
“The foreign ministry is examining the possibility of Israel pulling out of the Gaza Strip in terms of infrastructure,” AFP quoted Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon as telling the daily Yediot Aharonot’s website on Saturday.
Ayalon, a Knesset (Israeli parliament) deputy for the leftist Yisrael Beitenu party, said a Palestinian unity government “would put an end to any hope for a peace agreement” with Tel Aviv.
On Thursday, acting Palestinian Authority (PA) Chief Mahmoud Abbas (leader of Fatah party) held talks with Hamas Political Bureau Chief , Khaled Meshaal, in the Egyptian capital Cairo, where they announced a new era of partnership between the rival Palestinian factions.
The talks seriously irked Israeli leaders who decided to maintain a freeze on the transfer of tens of millions of dollars in tax monies to the PA, to further increase the strain on Ramallah-based authority.
The transfer of funds, which make up a large percentage of the PA’s monthly budget, was frozen in November by Tel Aviv, after the Palestine won full membership of the UN cultural organization, UNESCO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had in January threatened to cut off water and power to the long-blockaded Gaza Strip.
Israel continues to control the supply of water to Gaza and 70 percent of the territory’s electrical power. The rest of Gaza’s electricity needs are supplied by neighboring Egypt and local power plants, which rarely receive enough fuel to operate under Israel’s blockade.
Israel has tightened its crippling closure on the Gaza Strip since 2007, defying international calls to lift the blockade.