MIDDLE EAST

Power supply to Gaza to be resumed Monday, Israel says

POWER SUPPLY TO GAZA TO BE RESUMED MONDAY, ISRAEL SAYS

Israel said it will restore full electricity supply to Gaza Strip on Monday following a request last week by Palestine.

Gaza's two million residents were left with only three to four hours of electricity a day in April as supplies were decreased by about half when Israel cut the supply upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's withdrawal from his guarantee to pay Israel.

A brief statement by Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz on Sunday said he had ordered the power lines, which can deliver up to 120 megawatts of electricity, to be prepared for full operation "no later than tomorrow (Monday)." The move will restore an additional 50 megawatts of power to Gaza.

A Gaza economist said the restoration of electricity from Israel, the enclave's main electricity supplier, could raise power delivery to six hours. Gaza's sole power station generates only a small amount of electricity.

Hamas, the Palestinian resistance movement which governs the Strip, signed an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement with the Fatah movement in October and agreed to hand over administrative control of the Gaza Strip to the Ramallah-based government of Palestine, which runs the West Bank, illegally occupied by Israel.

But both groups have failed to finalize details of the deal, which had been due to be completed Dec. 1.

The resumption of power delivery comes at a time of heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

In December, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a decision recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced plans to relocate the U.S. embassy to the city.

The move drew international condemnation, with the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution calling on Trump to rescind his decision.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- occupied by Israel since 1967 -- might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

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