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February 1, 2015 / 12 Shevat, 5775
 
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CHELM

Israelis May Off PA Debts by Paying More for Electricity

The wise men of Chelm have a nifty solution to pay off Palestinian Authority debts for electricity. Use funds collected for the PA or use US aid? Nope. Just make Israelis pay more for electricity.
Ramallah multi-million dollar mall runs up PA debts for Israeli electricity

Ramallah multi-million dollar mall runs up PA debts for Israeli electricity
Photo Credit: Flash 90

Following Washington and Jerusalem’s decisions to fork over more money to the debt-ridden Palestinian Authority without requiring it to pay off its debts to Israel for electricity, the Israel Electric Corp, is considering raising electricity rates for Israelis to cover Ramallah’s debt.

Israel supplies almost all of the electricity for Jews and Arabs in Judea and Samaria. The Palestinian Authority and the Jerusalem District Electricity Company are responsible for collecting money from Arabs and paying Israel.

After PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas again violated the Oslo Accords last November, this time by going to the United Nations General Assembly for a resolution recognizing the Palestinian Authority on its own terms, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz triumphantly stopped the monthly transfer of tax money Israel collects for the PA and handed over the cash to the Israel Electric Corp. to pay off most, but not all, of the constantly growing debt of the Palestinian Authority for electricity.

That was before President Barack Obama visited Israel and softened up Prime Minister Netanyahu to make another one of countless “goodwill” gestures to Abbas and release monthly tax revenues.

Of course, Abbas has other sources to pay off the debt for electricity, such as the American taxpayer.

But the Obama administration, Washington’s version of Chelm, thinks that American money should be used to help Abbas to bloat his debt instead of paying it off.

After the president’s return to the United States, he came up with his own goodwill measure, and with the kind support of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States freed up $200 million for direct financial support for the Palestinian Authority budget, no strings attached.

Following Israel’s Cabinet decision to free the tax revenues, Israeli Electricity Corp., sources told Israel’s Globes business newspaper that the company now has less of a chance to collect money from the Palestinian Authority. “If there is no alternative, the utility will have to record the debt in its books as lost debt and ask the Public Utilities Authority to recognize it as an expense to be covered by electricity tariffs,” according to the newspaper’s website.

Rates will have to be increased approximately 3 percent for one year to cover the debt, but that is only for electricity and does not cover other PA debts.

Three percent would not be so bad by itself, but it would come on top of a 6.5 percent hike that was approved only two weeks ago.

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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