Official: PA to cover Israeli gas price rise

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Fuel prices will not rise significantly in the occupied territories after Israel increased the cost of gas, a senior Palestinian official told Ma’an on Sunday.

The head of the energy authority, Omar Katana, said the PA intervened to protect Palestinian consumers from an increase of electricity costs and will cover at least 75 percent of the rise.

As fuel costs rise with sanctions on Iran, Israel raised the cost of gasoline by 5 agorot (0.05 shekel) per liter on Saturday, Israeli daily Haaretz reported. The Israeli government offset the greater actual increase in price by cutting excise tax on gas, the report said.

The West Bank, which purchases gas from Israel, will mostly avoid the price increase as the government covers the extra costs.

Katana said that the decision was taken upon instruction of his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, after discussing it with the private and public sector including the ministry of the national economy.

Consumers can expect to pay some 25 percent of any increase, with the PA taking responsibility for the rest of the increase.

In the Gaza Strip, a fuel crisis has been ongoing for over a month, after Egypt cut supplies via a network of underground tunnels and officials struggled to agree an official alternative route.

Egypt, which is also experiencing fuel shortages, urged Hamas to import fuel across its border with Israel, but the ruling faction in Gaza refused, citing concerns Israel would block supplies.

Last week officials in Gaza and the West Bank said they have reached a deal with Egypt to bring fuel via the Rafah crossing to resolve the crisis.

Worldwide, oil prices have risen sharply since the start of the year, at one point breaking $128 a barrel, largely because of expanded sanctions imposed on major oil exporter Iran aimed at slowing its disputed nuclear program.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Saudi King Abdullah on Friday, amid fears Saudi Arabia may cut oil output if they release emergency reserves, neutralizing their effort to cool world energy markets.

Source: Maan News