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May 30, 2016 / 22 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘electricity’

In New US – PA Talks on Recovering Debt Ridden Economy, Fingers Point at Israel

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

Palestinian Authority Economy Minister Abeer Odeh and US Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin will meet Sunday in Ramallah for talks on developing the PA’s economy. At this point, the PA simply cannot pay its bills and is facing serious problems paying its government employees, from teachers to security forces. According to Trading Economics, in 2014 the PA recorded a Government Debt to GDP rate of 17.30% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Government Debt to GDP in the PA has averaged 18.92% from 1995 until 2014, reaching an all time high of 26.36% in 2007 and a record low of 2.93% in 1995.

The economies of the PA and Gaza strongly depend on their relationship with Israel, so that when the Israelis feel safe to permit documented (and many undocumented) Arab workers into their country, the Arab economy improves. And when there’s a war or an intifada, the Arabs go without.

The Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) most recent report, from 2014, shows high and rising levels of unemployment, which continued to be one of the main challenges to the economy. In 2014, it rose to 26.9%, compared to 23.4% in 2013. A main contributor was an exceptionally expanding rate in Gaza Strip, where unemployment reached 43.9%, compared to 32.6 percent in 2013, while the same rate declined in the PA from 18.6% to 17.7% during the same period. This rise in unemployment did not stop nominal daily wages from rising across different regions. Yet contradictory inflation trends have created discrepancies in real wage growth, as while real average daily wage for workers in the PA, and Israel and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria improved by 0.9% and 5.6% respectively, real wages in Gaza declined by 1.5% during 2014.

The PA Arabs’ dependence of Israel was made all too clear this past winter, when The Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) announced the PA and individual Arab municipalities have racked up a debt of close to half a billion dollars which the company could no longer absorb. The debt was split about $400 million to $80 million between the PA and the cities respectively.

In April, the IEC reached a temporary agreement with the PA to put an end to the temporary power cuts it had been imposing on a succession of municipalities, in exchange for paying off a small portion of the overall debt. Meanwhile, the Arab-run Jerusalem District Electricity Company, which owes the IEC $371 million out of the debt, sued the IEC in Israel’s High Court last April, saying the IEC’s behavior constituted “collective and disproportionate punishment” and showed “blatant and harmful disregard for a public that pays its electricity bills regularly.” It also suggested the IEC’s power cuts compromised basic consumer rights to access an essential resource.

“I don’t know of any company that would agree to do nothing about a 1.74 billion shekel ($450 million) debt owed by another company,” IEC chairman Yiftah Ron Tal said at the time. “We weren’t left with any choice. We’re limiting electricity in a proportionate way.”

But the High Court of Justice paid no attention to the complaints of the Israeli CEO, and issued an interim injunction on prohibiting service cuts to the eastern Jerusalem Arab power company.

IEC responded to the ruling with an angry statement: “The Israel Electric Corporation respects the High Court ruling but demands the issue over the growing debts of JDECO which reach 1.4 billion shekel ($360 million) be resolved quickly. JDECO debts continue to grow to an astronomic figure; like any other business, it is the legitimate right and the responsibility of IEC to take the necessary measures to resolve a problematic debt which has been a burden for all Israeli electricity consumers.”

Israel’s ambivalence about collecting the debt from the Arabs in both Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem and Gaza has produced a reluctant and ineffective method of getting the money from the taxes and VAT Israel collects on Arab wages and products. As a result, Israel was rebuked this month by the World Bank for ruining the PA economy by, essentially, withholding money Israel is rightfully due.

The new World Bank report estimates that the Palestinian Authority is losing $285 million in revenues annually under the current economic arrangements with the Government of Israel. The report states that these revenues could significantly ease the Authority’s fiscal stress. As was to be expected, there is no mention in the condemning report of the half billion dollars in free power Israel has poured into the PA.

“If revenue losses are mitigated, this can reduce the 2016 fiscal deficit to below $1 billion, and narrow the expected financing gap by more than 50 percent,” Steen Lau Jorgensen, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza said in a press statement.

In other words, if only Israel agreed to take the half billion dollars from Israeli power consumers and let the PA Arabs continue to receive free electricity, an Arab economic miracle would be just a matter of time.

The report also cites irregularities on Israel’s part in conducting revenues clearance, which have not been systematically implemented. The revenue sharing arrangements, outlined by the 1994 Paris Protocol, through which the Government of Israel collects VAT, import taxes and other revenues on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, and shares them on a monthly basis, have not been systematically implemented.

The majority of the estimated fiscal loss results from tax leakages on bilateral trade with Israel, and undervaluation of PA imports from third countries. In other words, the Israelis have been running a messy tax and payment system, as well as a messy debt collection system.

JNi.Media

Electric Workers’ ‘Italian Strike’ Keeps 200,000 Israeli Homes Dark after Storm

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

(JNi.media) An Italian strike, also known among Leninist scholars as Work-to-rule, is an industrial action in which employees do no more than the minimum required by the rules of their contract, and precisely follow safety or other regulations in order to cause a slowdown, rather than to serve their purposes. In Italy, this action is known as “sciopero bianco,” or white strike. In Israel, one such strike this week has caused a wave of irritation and rage, whose outcome is not yet clear, in an estimated 200,000 households.

IEC CEO Ofer Bloch apologized on Tuesday morning in a special session of the Knesset State Control Committee, to hundreds of thousands of Electric Company customers who lost their service during a storm Sunday, and were left in the dark for between one and two days. As of Tuesday morning in Israel, there are still at least 8,000 households without service.

“As a service provider of an essential service, we apologize are making every effort to restore power as quickly as possible,” Bloch told the committee, explaining that with the onset of the storm some 200,000 customers had been cut off. “This is an unprecedented event in the history of the country,” he argued. “In the last 48 hours, I’ve been going around and meeting with workers and hearing from them that none of them remember a situation like this where huge trees fell and lay on power lines and electricity was cut off to entire communities. 340 power lines collapsing, it is a fantastic figure.”

Be that as it may, and IEC employee memory notwithstanding, at 7 PM Monday, many hours after those 200,000 households had lost power in historic proportions, the IEC management appealed to the Haifa District Labor Court with a complaint that their workers’ committee was sabotaging the functioning of the company in a time of crisis, and asked the President of the Tribunal, Judge Alex Kogan, to order heads of the committee to stop doing that, according to Ha’aretz.

The descriptions management offered to the labor court reflected a level of disruption that caused management’s complete loss of control over the situation, even after it declared a state of emergency.

From the same IEC complaint it turns out that the workers’ committee ordered employees—in the emergency headquarters management had set up—to end their shift promptly at 5 PM Sunday and leave the area. In fact, the same report alleged that the emergency headquarters were abandoned as early as 3 PM Sunday, despite the fact that between 150 and 200 thousand households were still cut off and were calling for help.

In addition, the workers’ committee banned moving maintenance staff between trouble spots. Workers in Ashdod, for example, were not allowed to go to Ra’anana to help their colleagues, who were collapsing under the weight of system failures in the Sharon valley—Israel’s multi-million resident bedroom community north of Tel Aviv). In addition, the committee prevented maintenance workers from helping to connect electricity to homes, because this task is outisde their job description.

According to company executives, the committee eliminated the reinforcement of network supervisors, who are required to monitor power lines quickly and effect damage control. And so, with 300 power lines down, only a single supervisor was on duty — working from home, Homer Simpson style.

In addition, the committee instructed employees not to comply with management’s orders regarding a change in shift hours, but to come to work in the morning as usual and finish in the afternoon, like any day — depriving Management of the ability to extend its response and effect repairs through the night.

JNi.Media

Thousands of Israeli Families Still ‘Powerless’ for 24 Hours After Winter Storm

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Monday morning dawned grey and cold and wet and powerless for thousands of Israeli families in central Israel whose homes were hit on Sunday with the first winter storm of the season.

Hundreds of thousands of homes suffered intermittent blackouts.

High winds, rain and hail led to hundreds of homes losing power and basic infrastructure being damaged in some areas, according to the Israel Electric Company. Fallen trees damaged power lines in many areas, creating further damage but also dangerous situations in neighborhoods with children and pets.

Gusts of up to 75 to 92 kilometers per hour were recorded at Ben Gurion International Airport, which remained open despite the rain and hail. Sde Dov Airport in Tel Aviv was closed by the Israel Airports Authority for several hours but reopened by the afternoon.

By Monday morning, some homes Herzliya, Ra’anana, Netanya, Hadera, Ramle, Kfar Saba, Ness Ziona, Rehovot and even in some Tel Aviv neighborhoods were still without power.

A construction worker was killed in Pardes Hanna, and two people were hurt when a ten collapsed in the Jewish community of Har Bracha in Samaria. Flash flooding brought rescue workers out in force to extract people from vehicles unexpectedly caught in the storm, and people trapped in elevators when the power went out.

By mid-morning Monday, the sun was peeking out, however, despite a forecast that held the promise of more rain for later in the day and into the week, possibly until Thursday.

Hana Levi Julian

Debt-Ridden PA Owes Israel $400 Million for Electricity

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

The Palestinian Authority now owes the Israel Electric Corporation $400 million (1.7 billion. shekels) despite the trumpeted agreement nearly a year ago in which Israel resumed transferring tax collection revenues to the PA for the umpteenth time.

The debt-ridden regime in Ramallah supposedly would use some of the money to cut the debt for electricity, but Israel Electric CEO Ron Tal says the debt has grown to an “insane” amount.

He wants to start cutting the power to the Palestinian Authority, but that is unlikely to happen because the world would start screaming, “War Crime! War Crime.”

In the United States, and elsewhere, if someone does not pay for water or electricity, the municipality or utility company pulls the plug, without being charged with a war crime.

But there is hope, sort of.

The World Bank has announced it is transferring another $25 million to the Palestinian Authority from its “Palestinian Reform and Development Plan Trust Fund” that the Bank manages to support the PA budget.

The World Bank stated:

The funds contributed by the governments of Norway and the United Kingdom will help support the urgent budget needs of the Palestinian Authority (PA), providing inter alia support for ongoing macroeconomic and public financial management reforms.

Since the fund was established in 2008, the World Bank has turned over to the Palestinian Authority a staggering $1.38 billion.

The World Bank statement did not mention anything about what reforms, if any, the Palestinian Authority has carried out, and instead it said the PA economy is suffering from a lack of foreign aid.

Off to the rescue is Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who will travel to New York this month for one of the Palestinian Authority’s favorite events, a donor’s meeting at which countries pledged billions of dollars for Ramallah.

Most of the pledges, especially from Arab countries, remain as pledges, just as the debt to the Israel Electric Corp. remains a debt.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Israel Energy Use Breaks Record High in Heat Wave

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

Israel’s energy consumption broke all previous records on Sunday (August 2) as a massive heat wave hit the region, escalating in the afternoon to new highs.

Electricity usage in the Jewish State peaked at 3:30 pm in the afternoon to 12,525 megawatts. This left a reserve of approximately 900 megawatts, according to the Israel Electric Corporation – a very slim margin indeed.

The previous record for peak summer consumption was reached at 11,880 megawatts on July 19, 2012.

The all-time record high usage – for all weather, all seasons and all times – was reached this year at 11,930 megawatts on January 12, 2015.

The new all-time all-season usage record was set on Sunday at 12,525 megawatts – but the week and the heat wave – are just beginning.

Temperatures are not expected to drop until nearly the end of this week.

Hana Levi Julian

Palestinians Cry to UN on Israel ‘Debt Collection’

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

The Palestinian Authority filed a complaint Tuesday against Israel with the United Nations.

PA envoy Riyad Mansour wrote in his letter that Israel “resumed the theft of Palestinian tax revenues in direct retaliation for the legitimate, peaceful steps taken by the Palestinian leadership in the pursuit of justice and for the purpose of protecting the Palestinian people.”

Mansour’s complaint referred to Israel’s decision to withhold tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA to pay the entity’s outstanding debt to the Israel Electric Corp. of NIS 1.7 billion.

That decision “constitutes a blatant act of theft and of collective punishment,” Mansour charged. He claimed the tax revenues comprise the funding base for PA governmental institutions.

He neglected to mention the huge allocation for the generous monthly salaries paid to convicted PA terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prisons. Nor did he mention the thousands of members of the Hamas terrorist organization who are on the civil service payroll in Gaza — also “funded” by the Ramallah government which is, of course, underwritten by the foreign aid donated by the “international community.”

On Sunday, IEC chief executive officer Eli Glickman warned Israeli security heads in a letter that power might be cut in territories receiving service through the PA and Jerusalem District Electric Co. (JEDC).

JEDC purchases electricity from the IEC, and then sells it to PA communities in Judea and Samaria.

IEC issued the warning over concerns that power cuts could result in threats to the security of Israeli citizens from the PA population.

The company is refusing to connect new PA customers in Judea and Samaria, and threatening to cut power to the PA as well.

“The debt imposes a heavy burden on the company’s cash flow,” Glickman explained in his letter. “In light of the aforementioned facts, the Electric Corporation, with me as its chief, worked and will work as much as it can to collect the debt under discussion in order to preserve its financial stability.

“We therefore have no other choice, and the Electric Corporation, as a supplier of an essential service that is committed to all of its customers, is obligated to begin working in the coming days to collect with the following methods: 1. limiting the power supply; 2. not connecting new customers in areas of the JDEC and the PA.”

Unless the government intervenes to take action, Glickman continued, the IEC will be forced to carry out its attempt to collect the debt as described.

Rachel Levy

Security Sabotaged Around Jordan Valley Moshav

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

A chilling discovery was made Sunday morning by members of Moshav Hamra in the Jordan Valley — vandals chopped down and destroyed poles bearing electric power to the moshav.

The destruction by unknown hands signaled a plot to cut off power and communications to and from the moshav.

It might also potentially cut off the community’s ability to call for help in a terrorist attack.

The Palestinian Authority has insistently demanded that Israel hand over the Jordan Valley as part of the lands it desires for the creation of its hoped-for sovereign country.

Israel is unwilling to comply with this demand since the Jordan Valley has strong military significance. Relinquishing such a strategic location would be an act of national suicide.

District police told the Hebrew-language 0404 website that investigators were sent to the site and subsequently confirmed the attack appeared to have been carried out over the weekend.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/security-sabotaged-around-jordan-valley-moshav/2014/10/26/

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