According to an Army Radio report, the Israeli government has altered its position on permitting the Israel Electric Company to halt service to various Arab cities in Judea and Samaria for lack of payment of an accrued debt reaching $450 million. The money is owed by the Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO) and the Palestinian Authority. A few months ago, the IEC began a selective disconnection for a few days at a time of individual Arab cities, the PA appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court and the court placed an injunction on the practice pending a hearing.
The state has now responded to the PA cities’ petition,with a supporting statement by deputy head of the Israeli National Security Council Jacob Nagel, saying that while the government has the authority to order the IEC to continue providing electricity regardless of the Arabs’ huge debt, it also has the authority to approve of the blackouts as a means of encouraging payment, and as of now the concerned entities, including the political echelon, have decided to let the IEC do as it pleases to recoup the debt.
This marks a 180 degree change in Israel’s traditional policy which preferred to spend Israeli taxpayers’ money to pay for the PA deadbeats, to prevent a global protest of how the Israelis are depriving the Palestinians of electricity. In fact, it was the current head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen, who, back when he was head of the NSC, joined with then Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to compel the IEC to bite the bullet and continue to provide free electricity to the PA.
This, according to the Army Radio report Monday, is no longer the government’s position. The Supreme Court injunction will remain in place for the time being, but once there is a hearing, the court would have to abide by the opinion of the sovereign government and permit the IEC to do what it takes to collect from its PA customers.
It could mean those PA folks would be stuck without their Internet connection and the world would be spared many gigabytes of incitement.David Israel