Palestinian officials headed to Cairo on Saturday seeking a deal for continuous fuel deliveries to the Gaza Strip, after a day’s worth of fuel arrived in Gaza via Israel on Friday.
Power Authority chief Omar Kittaneh — who is heading the delegation — said they will discuss the mechanism for ongoing fuel pumping after the energy company provided funds to Cairo via the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Finance.
PA General Accountant Yousef al-Zumur is also participating in the delegation.
Gaza has been beset by power cuts of up to 18 hour a day since Egypt shut off fuel supplies through an underground tunnel network in mid-February.
Negotiations over an alternative route appeared to reach a breakthrough on Friday, when 437,000 liters of fuel — about a day’s supply — arrived from an Israeli company through the Israeli-controlled crossing Kerem Shalom, previously rejected by Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
Hamas wants fuel purchased from Egypt to be delivered through its Rafah terminal — the only crossing into Gaza not under Israeli control.
Egypt says Rafah does not have the capacity for fuel pumping and re-fitting the crossing is restricted under international agreements.
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad stressed on Friday that the Kerem Shalom delivery was a temporary solution, and called on the Gaza Energy Authority to step up its contribution to paying for fuel.
The PA pays about 70 percent of Gaza’s electricity costs, including 50 million shekels per month to an Israeli electricity company to supply 120 megawatts to Gaza’s power grid, and 10 million shekels per month for maintenance and upgrades of the electricity network.
Fayyad said the company must adhere to regulations for collecting electricity payments that increased revenues in northern Gaza from 30 percent in 2007, to 80 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, total collection rates declared by the company remain as low as 20 to 30 percent, he said.
Amid continued uncertainty over fuel supplies, a bakeries association in Gaza warned on Saturday it would imminently halt the production of about 200,000 loaves per day.
Bread is a staple of Gaza’s 1.7 million residents, who live under severe Israeli restrictions on the movement of people and goods from the coastal enclave.