Netanyahu says Netherlands, Israel to improve water, gas supply to Gaza
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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government will assist Israel in improving water and gas supplies to energy-strapped Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday during a visit to the Netherlands.
Netanyahu said that while his government is in a conflict with "terrorists" in the occupied territories, Israel still wishes to improve the quality of life for most people living there.
"We have no battle, no qualms with the people of Gaza", he said. "The first step is to improve the supply of energy and water to Gaza, including laying a gas pipeline."
He said he was publicly committing to making it happen.
Gaza faces an energy crisis due to damage to its electric network from past conflicts, together with Israel's coastal blockade and other sanctions and restrictions.
Currently the country has electricity less than half the time, using an 8-hour on, 8-hour off rationing system.
A gas pipeline from Israel could allow Gaza's power plant to double generation from around 200MW at present.
Water supplies to Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank have long been a point of tension between the neighbours, with the Palestinians saying Israel prevents them from accessing adequate water at an affordable price.
Netanyahu did not elaborate on details of the gas pipeline plan, saying only the Dutch, with their long history of water management, would help.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling and Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)
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