Abbas threatens to nix peace talks over bogus Gaza power crisis

Monday, January 21, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to suspend peace negotiations over Israel's latest measures against the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, an Egyptian newspaper reported on Monday.

A limited Israeli fuel embargo imposed in response to escalating rocket attacks from Gaza on nearby Jewish towns in southern Israel resulted in Gaza's main electrical power station shutting down at the weekend.

The Palestinians claimed that the closure left much of the territory in darkness, and forced local hospitals to suspend medical care. Abbas transmitted urgent telegrams to international leaders demanding that Israel be made to lift what he called its "siege" of Gaza.

However, senior employees of the Israel Electric Company noted in an interview with Ynet that Israel supplies more than 70% of Gaza's electrical needs, so the closure of the Gaza plant should not result in a major power shortage.

One electric company official expressed outrage over the Palestinian effort to demonize Israel, explaining that hundreds of electric company employees working at Israel's largest power plant in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon are daily putting their lives at risk to supply electricity to Gaza while terrorists operating from the Palestinian territory are firing rockets at them.

Additionally, Israel Electric Company employees are often sent at great risk to themselves to repair transformers in the Gaza vicinity to prevent a power shortage to the Palestinians, despite the fact that it is the Palestinians' own rockets that often knock out the transformers.

Israeli army officials also called out the Palestinians after international media broadcast images of a blacked-out Gaza where thousands of residents were seen carrying candles. The officials said the blackout images were a charade organized by Hamas and utilized by the Palestinian Authority to increase global criticism of Israel.

Abbas' threat was seen in Jerusalem as an attempt to bring American pressure on Israel to cease its war on terror. US President George W. Bush is determined to oversee a final status Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by the end of his term, and told both sides when he visited the region earlier this month to engage in intense non-stop negotiations until that goal is reached.

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