Jordan seeks to expand power supply to West Bank

AMMAN, Aug 24 (Reuters) – Jordan said on Wednesday it had doubled the electricity sold to the city of Jericho in the occupied West Bank to 80 megawatts, helping to reduce its dependence on electricity supplied by Israel as part of the of a broader objective of strengthening Palestinian independence.

The additional supplies come from a power plant in the Jordan Valley connected to an existing Palestinian grid run by the Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the West Bank.

Jordan and the Palestinian Authority sought to expand ties under interim peace agreements signed with Israel in the 1990s, but accuse Israel of obstructionism, a charge Israel denies.

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“Jordan supports our goal of gradually ending the dependence imposed on us by the (Israeli) occupation in trade, infrastructure, water, energy, among others,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said during the meeting. a ceremony attended by his Jordanian counterpart at the power station.

“(It) helps diversify our energy sources,” he added.

Jordan, which ruled the West Bank and East Jerusalem before being captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, resumed supplying electricity to Jericho in the Jordan Valley nearly a decade ago .

The kingdom has extensive trade and commercial ties with Palestinians, many of whom have relatives in Jordan, a country where the majority of the population originates from west of the Jordan River.

“This project was completed in record time as part of our continued support for the Palestinians in all areas…” Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al Khasawneh said.

“It reflects our commitment to help build the foundations of an independent Palestinian state,” he added, citing his country’s longstanding support for a Palestinian state on land seized in the 1967 war.

The Palestinian Authority receives most of its electricity needs for the population under its control from Israel.

Amjad al Rawashdeh, director of Jordan’s national electricity company, said a future phase would cover other parts of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“We have promising plans to collect food to enable the Palestinians to cover their needs,” Rawashdeh told public television Mamlaka.

Jordan has sought to expand its exports to Palestinian markets and has negotiated with Israel to remove trade barriers. He accused Israel of trying to maintain a grip on the market so that it could sell Israeli products. Israel denies it.

Khasawneh said a priority was to increase exports to the territories, which officials say could reach $1 billion a year from about $200 million now if Israel removes barriers and Jordan opens new ones. commercial crossing points.

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Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi Additional reporting by Jehad Abu Shalbak and Hams Rabah Editing by Edmund Blair and Mark Potter

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Rosemary C. Kearney