Gaza City power plant
Gaza City power plant Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Qatar will finance the purchase of fuel for Gaza’s power plant, bringing an expected relief in the electricity shortage in Gaza, Haaretz reported on Thursday.

The arrangement, which is supposed to go into effect in the coming days, will allow a significant increase in the supply of power to Gaza residents, according to the report. Israel hopes that this development, which should provide an immediate improvement to residents’ daily lives, will reduce the risk of a military confrontation with Hamas.

Gaza now receives around four hours of electricity a day. The Qatari aid, estimated to be tens of millions of dollars, aims to raise the average to eight hours a day.

According to Haaretz, talks on this issue have been taking place over the past few months under the UN envoy to the region, Nickolay Mladenov. Qatar was represented by its regional envoy Mohammed al-Amedi. The Israeli official most involved was National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.

The breakthrough was reached at the conference of countries that donate to the Palestinian Arabs, which took place last week in New York alongside the UN General Assembly sessions, the report said.

Previous talks had raised the possibility of increasing the electricity supply from Israel by upgrading the power line from Israel to Gaza, but this proposal met with difficulties because the Palestinian Authority objected.

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas is trying to pressure Gaza's Hamas rulers to return control of Gaza to his Fatah movement, most notably by cutting electricity supplies to Gaza through Israel.

Abbas has refused moves to improve the electricity supply in Gaza unless there is progress in the PA-Hamas reconciliation talks.

Despite Egyptian mediation efforts, the gap between Hamas and the PA remains wide, noted Haaretz. At the heart of the dispute is Hamas’ refusal to subordinate its security services to the PA, even if the latter agrees to take over civilian authority in Gaza and redeploy its personnel there.

The Hamas-Fatah conflict has been ongoing since 2007, when Hamas violently took control of Gaza from Fatah.

Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal last October, under which the PA was to have resumed full control of Gaza by December 1.

That deadline was initially put back by 10 days and had later reportedly hit “obstacles”. Attempts to get the sides back to the negotiating table have failed.