Necessity is the mother of invention, and for Palestinians living on the West Bank trying to break their dependence on Israel for energy has resulted in a new solar powered vehicle.
The four-seater is covered in solar panels to convert the suns rays into energy to power a small electric motor which pushes the vehicle along at 20 Kph for about 10 hours. And if the sun doesn’t shine it can be plugged into the wall, and the battery recharged from the mains.
It looks a bit like an over-sized golf cart and took the Royal Industrial Trading Company around two months and $5000 to develop.
“This car was the first step, and now we are working on two other cars. If the work is successful, then we will do a lot of cars and sell them”, says Nabel Az-Zagheer, chairman of the Royal Industrial Trading Company.
Based in the town of Al-Khalil, the company specialises in sanitation and water supply products, and adapted them to create the new vehicle.
A greater use of solar energy could help the people of the West Bank escape escalating energy prices.
Israel has control over the fuel supply to the Palestinian population, and according to the Oslo agreements, the Palestinian Authority is obliged not to sell its gasoline for less than 15 percent of Israel’s market price, reports the The Electronic Intifada.
"Such supply monopolies are a form of power. They provide easy ways to exert political pressure on the Palestinian Authority and ordinary Palestinians and to enforce their compliance with Israel’s interests", Charles Shamas, a founder of the Mattin Group, a Ramallah-based research and advocacy organization told the Middle East Media Center.
The Palestinians are also heavily dependent on electric power provided by Israel. A power station in Gaza provides some 40% percent of the Strip’s electricity; the rest has to be purchased from Israel. Some small amounts are also sold by Egypt and Jordan.
“We want to lower as much as possible our dependence on Israel, because we won’t be able to reach a reasonable level of national security if Israel can, at any point, disconnect our electricity, and even harm the power plant in Gaza, as it did in 2006 as punishment for the abduction of Gilad Shalit,” Hanna Siniora, chairperson of the Palestinian-American Chamber of Commerce, has told Al-Monitor.com
Constantly rising fuel prices affect the cost of basic foodstuffs such as maize, vegetable oil and bread.
Palestinian efforts to reduce its dependency on Israeli energy have met strong opposition from Tel Aviv.
In March RT reported on Israel’s plans to bulldoze eight solar panels in the West Bank. They were donated by a number of international charities in 2009, yet have were deemed “illegal” by Israeli authorities due to the lack of an appropriate building permit.
The 62% of the West Bank controlled by Israel is not connected to the national energy grid. On the other hand, the Jewish settlements in the area are connected to national energy and water grids, reports the Guardian.
"We saw a systematic targeting of the water infrastructure in Hebron, Bethlehem and the Jordan valley. Now, in the last couple of months, they are targeting electricity. Two villages in the area have had their electrical poles torn down. There is a systematic effort by the civil administration targeting all Palestinian infrastructure in Hebron. They are hoping that by making it miserable enough, they [the Palestinians] will pick up and leave," an anonymous UN expert told the Guardian.