The Israel Electric Company said Wednesday that it would shut off power to some communities in the Palestinian Authority this week, unless the PA paid off its enormous debt. According to IEC officials, the PA owes it over NIS 1.8 billion ($450 million).
The IEC has long tried to collect its money, with the PA adamantly refusing to pay, saying that various agreements with Israel qualify it for free electricity. The IEC has tried to sue the PA, and to collect its debts via the cash Israel transfers to the PA. Both approaches have been rebuffed by the courts.
DOES ANYONE KNOW ON WHAT BASIS?
In order not to exacerbate tensions, shutting off the power to the PA was always seen as a last resort – and the IEC said Wednesday that at this point the company had reached that last resort. Instead of shutting off the power altogether, the IEC would limit electricity flows to the PA. “Hopefully a solutionwill be found” as a result – and if one isn’t found, the company will take more drastic steps.
IEC CEO Yiftah Ron-Tal has commented on what he calls the injustice of allowing the PA to get off scot-free from paying its bills, while ordinary Israelis are subject to fines and penalties if they miss a payment.