Recently, a new plan for the Gaza Strip was presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, Euorpean Union leaders, and members of the Trump adminstration. All of these officials received the new plan with great enthusiasm.
The plan is based on an idea that is simple: “Establish an Israeli desalination plant, on Israeli land, funded by Saudi Arabia, the Europeans and others, that provides clean water to Gaza.”
The Gaza Strip has many challenges. The energy and water crisis in Gaza continue to grow. The population is almost 2 million, with a growth rate of nearly 3 percent per year and an unemployment rate of over 40 percent. Simply stated, there are not enough sustainable water sources in Gaza. Less than 4 percent of freshwater sources are drinkable. Additionally, Palestinian leadership in Gaza has not been able to gain confidence from international governments, and the overall economy makes investments by financial institutions practically impossible.
The overall desire is that the administration would not make this idea part of the peace plan. The funds will be provided for the desalination plant, property, the ongoing supply of water, and the creation of a terrorism-free zone either on Egyptian or Israeli land to protect the plant.
The cost of the project should come under $500 million and should not be part of a peace plan. The companies are ready, all that is needed is an agreement from the Trump administration. The United States has gained over $200 million from the funding cut to UNRWA and there is no doubt there will be donations from the Gulf States and the Europeans.
When the project was presented to the Crown Prince, he was told Jared Kushner was studying the plan. The Crown Prince said if Jared Kushner was interested, he should contact him.
Evangelicals, who know Donald Trump, believe he has a compassionate heart. Providing fresh water to the children in Gaza is a basic human right that must transcend politics, according to The Jerusalem Post. This plant would be large enough to address more than 50 percent of Gaza’s current needs for drinking water. Israel or Egypt would provide the land and the pipeline to the Gaza Strip, and donor countries would provide the construction capital and annual subsidy for the proper deliver of water to Gaza.
Technology for the plan can come from an Israeli company. Technologies based on similar projects built in the region. This model could serve as a conduit for similar infrastructure projects, such as solar energy, traditional electric power plants, and waste treatment facilities.
The first alternative is the donated facility. A described, Israel or Egypt will provide the necessary land and pipeline, and the donor countries will cover the cost of construction. The project would be conducted via an Israeli or Egyptian government tender with coordination from the U.S. to identify a general contractor for the project. After the construction is complete, water and energy will be supplied to the Gaza Strip at a subsidized price or even at not cost for the Gaza water authority.
A second alternative would be to have BOT built, operate, and transfer. According to this model, a private company, following a tender management by the Israeli Government of the Egyptian infrastructure authority, will build, operate, and deliver water to the Gaza Water Authority for 25 to 30 years. That private entity will charge money for the water shipped.
The long-term contract, guaranteed by Egypt and the U.S., the private company would invest its own capital and attract international financing partners for the cost of construction. The cost of water would be subject to a subsidized price, so Gaza gains a true benefit.
Private companies have already been pre-qualified for quality and financial strength. They will compete on the basis of three main factors: The minimum upfront payment provided by the U.S. as a construction subsidy; the price they are willing to charge the Gaza Water Authority (the lower the better); and the level of annual guarantee requested (the lower the better). After 30 years, Egypt or Israel would own the facility and could use it for any purpose desired.
How can the Gaza water situation be saved? According to The Jerusalem Post, the answer is simple: if it is important for the European governments to assist the Palestinians in Gaza, the problem itself must be addressed. The inability of the Hamas to manage the water problem can be solved by handing the Israelis of the Egyptians the funds needed to desalinate water on the border of Gaza and pump it to the Gaza Strip.
Europe should be part of a consortium of nations that will find the construction and operation of a desalination plant based in Israel or the Sinai.
By Jeanette Smith
The Jerusalem Post: A NEW PROPOSAL FOR THE GAZA STRIP
Image Courtesy of stichting kifaia’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons Licnse