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Monday, August 21, 2017

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (fourth from right) and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (to the left of Steinitz) attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside of Jenin to inaugurate the first Palestinian-owned power station. (Credit: Twitter)

(JNS.org) In a rare show of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz both attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside of Jenin in the disputed territories to inaugurate the first Palestinian-owned power station.

“This is definitely an encouraging historic moment in which we are inaugurating the first substation in the Palestinian Authority,” Steinitz said at the ceremony. “Israel is interested in improving the Palestinian economy, and here we have a project that is beneficial for both parties.”

The new Palestinian-owned substation, which is part of a deal signed in September 2016 to transfer electric infrastructure in the disputed territories to the PA, will transmit 60 megawatts of electricity to Palestinian homes and can provide a total of 125 megawatts at full capacity. In the past, Israel’s Electric Company worked directly with local Palestinian companies, towns and villages, which frequently failed to pay their bills.

Steinitz said the substation is a “win-win situation” since it will provide consistent electricity for Palestinians and Israel will no longer be primarily responsible for providing electricity to them.

The power station project was a joint venture between international partners and donors including USAID, the European Union, Italy and Spain.

Nearby, the Palestinians are working on another energy project, a power plant, that is expected to be completed by 2020 and will provide PA-controlled parts of the disputed territories with 450 megawatts of electricity, meeting half of the need in the area. There are also plans to build three additional substations near Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron by the end of 2018.