It has always bewildered me that we are ready to shed our blood for this land and yet we treat it so badly.


OUR LAND that we claim to love is dirty and polluted and overflowing with sewage and waste instead of milk and honey.OUR LAND that we claim to love is dirty and polluted and overflowing with sewage and waste instead of milk and honey. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
OUR LAND that we claim to love is dirty and polluted and overflowing with sewage and waste instead of milk and honey.

The government recently set its climate change commitments to lower CO2 emission and to improve our environment. The decision to tax plastic utensils is an important part of the steps needed to cut down on waste, which is a plaque in Israel.

Our land that we claim to love is dirty and polluted and overflowing with sewage and waste instead of milk and honey. It has always bewildered me that we are ready to shed our blood for this land and yet we treat it so badly. When I say “we,” I mean Israelis and Palestinians who are willing to fight and die for the land but not to treat it with love.

The West Bank is also filthy, that includes illegal Israeli settlements and Palestinian towns and villages. I get so angry when I see Palestinians throw waste from the cars, as I do when I see Israelis leaving their garbage in our parks and hiking areas every weekend and holiday.

Our sea shores and beaches are disgusting and trying to vacation there is often depressing. So, setting new climate goals and much higher environmental standards are great and the government is moving in the right direction. When there is more responsible governance in Palestine, I hope that they too take significant steps to improve the environment and take much better care of the land they are fighting for.

One area that Israel has postponed for a year and Palestine does almost nothing about is in the field of energy. There is no reason why both Israel and Palestine cannot reach 50% renewable energy by 2030. At least during daytime hours we enjoy enough sun to provide for a lot more than 50% of our electricity needs through solar energy. Within a short number of years, affordable and efficient technologies for energy storage will be available and then 100% of our electricity needs should come from renewable sources.Israel and Palestine should be preparing now for the electric vehicle revolution. Fossil fuels, including natural gas – out! Renewable energy in! The entire developed world is moving in that direction very rapidly. Our governments should now be removing taxes from electric vehicles and should be encouraging the establishment of charging stations in all public parking areas.

For the Palestinians, energy independence is a central element of political independence. Israel is the main electricity supplier for the Palestinians in the West Bank, via medium-voltage lines through more than 235 medium-voltage connection points supplied from main Israeli transmission stations.

Electricity is distributed to Palestinians through Palestinian local distribution companies such as JDECO – the Jerusalem Electricity Distribution Co., NEDCO – the North Electricity Distribution Co., SELCO – the Southern Electricity Distribution Company, TEDCO – the Tubas Electricity Distribution Company, and HEPCO – the Hebron Electricity Power Company, and some 150 municipal councils that also distribute electricity. The Palestinian monthly electricity bill for Israeli electricity ranges from NIS 170 million ($47m.) to NIS 200m. ($55.5m.) per month.

The Palestinian economy depends on the electricity and fuel imported from Israel. Israel will also be the main supplier of natural gas to the Palestinian market, even though the Palestinians own an untapped gas field off the coast of Gaza. There were advanced negotiations to build a 340-MW gas-fired Combined Cycle Power Plant in Jenin, in the north of the West Bank, with an expected commercial operation date not yet known (no work has advanced on this project in several years).

There is also a plan to build a 70-MW gas powered plant in Hebron with gas coming from Israel. Palestinian overdependence on gas-fired powered plants is unwise because the gas is coming from Israel, over land and could easily be shut down by Israel, should political conflicts erupt. The only source that can provide energy independence, increase energy security and contribute to alleviate the recurrent energy crisis affecting the population is locally generated renewable energy. 

IN 2008 Palestinian municipalities introduced a system of pre-paid electricity meters ensuring full payment by consumers of the electricity sold by the municipalities to their residents. This is one of the main sources of revenues for the Palestinian municipalities. Through work of mine, the Palestinian Authority passed regulations regarding municipal-level utility-scale solar energy projects. According to the Palestinian law, municipalities can sign Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) – contracts for the sale of electricity from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for up to 1 megawatt. Based on our recommendations, PPAs signed by municipalities should include at least a 10% discount on the tariff currently paid by the municipality to the Israel Electric Corporation.

This is a win-win proposal for independent power producers and the Palestinian municipalities. But almost nothing has been done in Palestine to take advantage of this possibility. One of the reasons is that most of the available land for solar projects for Palestinians is in Israeli-controlled Area C and Israel has not been willing to allow these projects to be licensed.

Another reason is that Israel controls the main grid lines, and in order for the Palestinians to gain energy independence Israel should transfer ownership of the grid lines to the Palestinians. Israel should also allow high voltage lines to cross through Area C lands to the main Palestinian cities such as Ramallah and Nablus. Large-scale solar energy projects could be built on open Palestinian-owned land and the energy sent to high voltage lines to the main Palestinian cities.In order for this to happen the Palestinians must also make a decision that municipalities and distribution companies that can replace Israeli-supplied electricity with locally produced renewable energy must be obliged to do so. This has been a major stumbling block in creating a commercial renewable energy market in Palestine. This has to change.Palestine can get to 50% renewable energy in five years if the PA determines that this should happen. The PA government has the ability to push the local governments to sign contracts with local producers and to provide guarantees of payment so that the project can be financed in a way that will make the cost of energy cheaper. This will improve the climate, make Palestine a partner to global efforts to slow down climate change and make Palestine greener. 

The writer is a political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to the State of Israel and to peace between Israel and her neighbors. He is now directing The Holy Land Investment Bond.