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March 6, 2008

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Egypt to supply Gaza power

Egypt is working on a plan to supply all of Gaza’s electricity needs and wean it off its reliance on Israel for power, an Egyptian energy official said. Last month, Israel began reducing its supply of electricity to the Hamas-ruled coastal strip after the High Court of Justice ruled that doing so wouldn’t cause a humanitarian crisis. Israel is trying to prevent Qassam rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel. So far, it has supplied most of Gaza’s electricity. Under the plan, Egypt – which already supplies a small part of Gaza’s power – would increase the number of power lines linking it to Gaza and provide Palestinians with 250 megawatts, said Izzat Ibrahim, a senior official of Sinai’s National Electricity Power Company. “This capacity is considered as an alternative power for that Israel used to supply,” Ibrahim said.

Resistance still an option

Mahmoud Abbas was quoted as saying he might support Palestinian armed “struggle” against Israel in the future. “At this time I am against armed struggle, because we cannot achieve it,” the Palestinian Authority president said in an interview with a Jordanian newspaper, but he added that “things might be different in the coming stages.” Israel and western powers have long praised Abbas for renouncing terror and guerrilla attacks as part of the Palestinian national cause. His comments appeared to run counter to that image. In the interview, Abbas said that he had the “honour” of being the first member of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah group to fire a gun at Israelis, in 1965.

Katsav plea deal upheld

Israel’s High Court of Justice upheld ex-president Moshe Katsav’s plea bargain. A five-justice panel decided to reject six petitions against the attorney general’s decision last year to drop rape charges against Katsav in exchange for his confession to lesser offences.  The plea bargain outraged feminist and government watchdog groups, who said the state risked playing down the severity of sex crimes and inviting charges of favouritism toward public figures. Katsav, who resigned last year in disgrace, denied allegations by several former female staffers that he had raped or sexually harassed them. Under the plea bargain, he will get a suspended prison sentence and pay $12,000 to two of the complainants. A rape conviction could have meant as much as seven years in jail.

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