Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash 90
IEC workers connecting Maaleh Adumim, on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem, to the grid.

On Monday, the Israel Electric Company disconnected the power supply to a large portion of Bethlehem in Judea, as part of a new, two-week power-cuts plan approved Monday morning by IEC management. Several main streets in Bethlehem, most notably Al Quds Street, are without power.

The new plan was discussed and approved by management as a proper response to the accumulating debts of the Palestinian Authority and the Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO) which have reached 1.7 billion shekels ($450 million).

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Last Thursday the IEC cut the power supply to the Arab city of Jericho near the Dead Sea. According to a JDECO official who spoke to Ha’aretz, the power cuts are not bringing any solution any time soon, and so they constitute collective punishment (which is forbidden under the Geneva Convention — although the same convention has nothing to say about having to pay your electric bills).

JDECO also claims that the announced debt is inflated, and there is a dispute between the Arab sub-metering company and IEC over the rates and how the interest is calculated for late payments. But the IEC contended that even if the Arab figures were to be adopted, the difference in the size of the debt would only be a few percentage points — not 1.7 billion shekels.

One of the reasons for the Arab failure to pay for their power is a letter sent two years ago by Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) chief, Major General Yoav Mordechai, to then National Security Advisor in the prime minister’s office, Yossi Cohen, warning against the IEC’s plan to curb power service to Arabs in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem over their burgeoning debts. Mordechai argued that the power supply is not merely a business issue, but a strategic component of Israel’s policy. He warned that limiting power supply to the Arabs would be perceived as Israeli sanctions against the civilian population and therefore should be avoided.

In February 2015, the IEC disconnected the cities of Shechem and Jenin twice, over PA debts that reached 1.9 billion shekels ($500 million). Earlier, Israel froze half a billion shekels ($133 million) in taxes it collects on behalf of the PA. The PA then complained to the Criminal Court in the Hague, and Jerusalem and Ramallah reached a compromise that resulted in half a billion shekels ($133 million) going to pay the IEC, and one billion shekels ($260 million) being handed over to the PA.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. If the Palestinians call me, I have a solution for them. I will tell Abbas to stop paying the families of the so-called martyrs. Abbas should also stop pocketing the monies he gets from countries around the world. I will also tell him to stop putting up monuments of the terrorists. Then he would have enough to pay his bills.

  2. There is billions of dollars of international aid for the Arab Palestinians missing and unaccounted for, why ? Very little of the 31 billion dollars donated by Western nations over the past twenty-one years, since the signing of the Oslo Accords, has been monitored, let alone accounted for to assure it was used to achieve the goals for which it was earmarked. Billions of dollars of this aid is missing and the UN says nothing and does nothing about it . Too many forget the UN –Saddam Hussein oil for food scandal , where Saddam was paying off UN Officials so he could buy weapons under the table. I believe UN Officials are getting payoffs .

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