Jordan seeks to expand power supplies to West Bank


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AMMAN — Jordan said on Wednesday it had doubled the electricity sold to the occupied West Bank city of Jericho to 80 megawatts, helping reduce its reliance on power supplied by Israel as part of a broader goal to bolster Palestinian independence.

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

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

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

“(This) helps to diversify our sources of energy,” he added.

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

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

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

“This reflects our commitment to help in building the foundations of the independent Palestinian state,” he added citing his country’s long-standing support for a Palestinian state on land seized during the 1967 War,

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

Jordan’s state-owned National Electric Power Company director Amjad al Rawashdeh said a future phase would cover other parts of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“We have promising projects to raise supplies to allow the Palestinians to cover their needs,” Rawashdeh told state-owned Mamlaka television.

Jordan has sought to expand exports to Palestinian markets and has been negotiating with Israel to ease trade hurdles. It has accused Israel of trying to keep a tight grip on the market so it can sell Israeli goods. Israel denies this.

Khasawneh said a priority was increasing exports to the territories, which officials say could rise to $1 billion a year from around $200 million now if Israel eases hurdles and Jordan opens new commercial crossings. (Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi Additional reporting by Jehad Abu Shalbak and Hams Rabah Editing by Edmund Blair and Mark Potter)


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