J Street welcomes the signing this week of an historic new electricity agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The agreement sets the parameters for the supply of electricity to an underserved area, inaugurates an important new electric substation for the Jenin region and will allow Palestinians to control the flow of electricity to their own cities and communities in the West Bank. Palestinian workers will operate, maintain and repair the substation.
This is a welcome and important step from the Israeli government, giving Palestinian authorities more supervision of a vital aspect of their economy and the quality of life of their citizens, and could pave the way for a more comprehensive agreement covering the entire Palestinian territory. While economic measures alone will not bring about a two-state solution or end the occupation, this is an example of precisely the kind of proactive cooperation and problem-solving that is needed to strengthen the foundations for a Palestinian state and build trust between the two sides.
Many more steps of this nature are needed to end the repressive restrictions of the occupation and to allow Palestinian communities the vital infrastructure, services and freedom they need. Last week, Israeli soldiers destroyed and confiscated internationally funded solar panels and equipment that had brought electricity to an impoverished Palestinian village. This type of punitive and destructive measure must stop.
We also note that while the Palestinian citizens of the West Bank receive this much needed boost, attention must also be paid to the dangerous and deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Millions of residents in the Strip are without power for almost the entire day, thanks to inadequate infrastructure and unacceptable electricity cuts requested by the PA. We urge Palestinian and Israeli authorities to work together with the international community to implement desperately needed solutions and alleviate further suffering in Gaza.