BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel has given initial approval to a Palestinian request to build a power plant in the northern occupied West Bank, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said on Tuesday.

In a statement released in Arabic, COGAT said the project for a gas power plant in the industrial zone of the Jenin district “would cause a qualitative shift in electricity consumption which will have a positive impact on all aspects of life.”

The power plant, the statement added, would produce 450 Megawatts of electricity, which would “reduce electricity bills and protect the environment.”

COGAT added that it planned to intensify its efforts to see the project through in cooperation with relevant Israeli ministries and the Palestinian Authority.

Palestine Investment Fund Chairman Muhammad Mustafa, who submitted the construction request to COGAT, said in a statement on Tuesday that the projected plant would cover 50 percent the West Bank’s electricity needs.

The power plant, Mustafa said, “will be built by Palestinian efforts and capacities, benefiting from international experience in this field.”

The construction is expected to cost $620 million, with the station expected to start running by the end of 2019, he added.

Mustafa emphasized that “no Israeli companies have been contracted for the construction of the station or for providing gas.” His statement comes more than a year after the Palestine Power Generation Company (PPGC) announced it would terminate a $1.2 billion deal with the Israeli-American Leviathan reservoir partners that would have supplied natural gas to a future Palestinian power plant.

Israeli news website Ynet reported that the project still needed to be referred to “relevant Israeli ministries” for final approval.

Expansion projects to the grid in the occupied West Bank come as Palestinian dependence on Israeli electricity has been an ongoing point of contention between the two parties for years.

The contention arises partially due to massive debt owed by the Palestinian Authority to the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), which provides around 88 percent of total electricity consumption in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Israeli authorities have withheld tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in the past over unpaid bills owed to Israeli companies.

Earlier this month, the IEC cut off power to a number of Palestinian municipalities over debt owed by the Palestinian Authority amounting to more than 1.7 billion shekels ($447.8 million). The move was denounced at the time as amounting to collective punishment.
Palestinians to build first West Bank power plant – YNET

PMO approves request by Palestine Investment Fund to build a power plant in the Jenin Industrial Zone; the plant will create 1,000 jobs for Palestinians and reduce cost of electricity in the West Bank.

Elior Levy
Published: 04.12.16

Israel has approved in principle the construction of the first Palestinian power station in the West Bank, expected to be built in the Jenin Industrial Zone, near the Gilboa-Jalame checkpoint.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued the approval after the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF), led by a confidante of President Mahmoud Abbas and former deputy prime minister Mohammed Mustafa, submitted a request through the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

The Palestinian power station, which will take four years to build, will provide the Palestinian market with 450 mega watts at full capacity and will be fueled by Israeli gas, coming from the Leviathan reservoir.

If at first Israel could not provide the station with gas because of the uncertain future of the gas deal, the station could operate on diesel fuel.

In the long term, the station is supposed to get its gas from a reservoir off the coast of Gaza which belongs to the Palestinian Authority, but such a plan cannot come to fruition because of a variety of geopolitical factors.

The power station will be both publically and privately owned. Along with the PIF, its private investors include the Bank of Palestine, Padico, an investment holding group owned by Palestinian billionaire Munib Al-Masri, and others.

The Israel Electric Corporation can currently provide the Palestinian Authority with up to 1,000 megawatts a day. This is approximately in line with the current Palestinian demand, but that demand is growing, which results in power supply problems.

The power station is expected to mostly provide for the needs of the northern West Bank, while other parts of the West Bank will also receive electricity from the station, but use the existing Israeli infrastructure.

In the near future, the Palestinians will issue a tender to build the power station and they are not opposed to the Israel Electric Corporation making a bid.

For the Palestinians, building a power station is very significant: Production of electricity will be cheaper than buying it from Israel, and annual saving is expected to stand on $40 million. Additionally, building the station will directly and indirectly add 1,000 new jobs to the Palestinian economy. The power station will also bring in about $100 million in additional tax revenue to the PA every year.

The Palestinians also hope to build a smaller power station in the Hebron area.,7340,L-4790597,00.html