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While the U.S. and its leader dismiss climate change, the Palestinian government is endorsing renewable energy sources.
Despite mounting pressure on the Palestinian government and people by both the U.S. administration and the Israeli occupation, Palestine is attempting to confront the global threat of climate change head on as it plans to bring solar power to 500 schools in the occupied West Bank within the next four years.
The Palestinian Ministry of Education and the Palestinian Investment Fund, PIF, signed an agreement Tuesday to have solar panels installed on roofs of 500 Palestinian public schools to generate 35 megawatts of electricity, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
The project, worth US$35 million and funded by the investment arm of the Palestinian government PIF, will hopefully “develop and enhance the education system in Palestine,” according to Palestinian Minister of Education Sabri Saidam.
Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah attended the signing ceremony and said the agreement is part of the government efforts to invest in renewable energy solutions. The investment fund director Mohammad Mustafa said this project was the first of its kind in the region, according to Wafa.
This new initiative, however, could face implementation challenges as Israel had in the past attacked and confiscated solar panels equipments from remote schools and homes in the West Bank that have introduced the alternative energy source, according to a report last year by Israeli left-leaning newspaper Haaretz.
The Israeli authorities said that those schools and homes had failed to obtain permits for adding such equipments as the structures were in the West Bank’s Area C , which represents more than 60 percent of the Palestinian occupied territory and is under full Israeli military control.
It is unclear if the Palestinian government would need to obtain permits for its new initiative. Palestine gets most of its electricity from Israel, which Tel Aviv could use as a blackmail or punishment tactic against the Palestinians, as is the case in Gaza as part of the more than a decade-long Israeli blockade on the Palestinian enclave.
A report, issued in November by the World Bank, warned that the Palestinian territories rely primarily on Israeli imports to meet electricity needs, amounting to 99 percent of total supply in the West Bank and 64 percent of total supply in Gaza.
The report further suggested that “Diversification of energy sources is key to a resilient sector, balancing out Israeli imports with new sources of traditional and green energy.”
Meanwhile the U.S. Tuesday announced a US$65 million cut to a United Nations agency that provides aid and support to millions of Palestinian refugees in camps in Palestine and host countries in the region.
The Trump administration has also threatened to cut aid to the Palestinian government as part of a blackmail strategy to force the Palestinians into an entirely pro-Israeli peace process backed by Washington and its Arab allies Saudi Arabia and UAE.
As Palestine joins the international community in tackling climate change, the United States has become the only country in the world to not be part of the Paris climate agreement as part of President Donald Trump’s hostile policy towards climate change and his endorsement of fossil fuel industry and their dismissive position on the global threat.
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