The Israeli Electric Company announced on Monday that it had transferred to the Palestinian Authority three sub-stations in Tarqumiyah, Qalandiya, and Shechem, in addition to the sub-station in Jenin that was transferred to the PA in 2017. These sub-stations will not be generating power, which will continue to be transmitted from Israel.
Haaretz, which reported the move, added that the Palestinian Authority welcomed it, but this reporter’s attempt to find even a faint mention of it on the PA’s news agency WAFA’s website failed. The reader is invited to search here…
Haaretz also reported that Israel stressed that the Arab-owned substations would also benefit the residents of the settlements in Judea and Samaria.
Because it’s well known that the Palestinian Authority goes out of its way to improve the lives of the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria settlements.
In any case, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) explained the contribution of the move to the residents of the settlements, saying: “The construction and operation of three new substations in Judea and Samaria will lead to a dramatic improvement in the supply of electricity to both Jewish and Arab localities.”
He added: “This is an important and significant step on the way to equaling the level of infrastructure in Judea and Samaria to that in the rest of the Land of Israel.”
One is reminded of the old notions of “separate but equal” that were very popular south of the Mason–Dixon line only half a century ago…
IEC Chairman Yiftach Ron-Tal added that the move “will ease the congestion in IEC infrastructure and will dramatically improve the reliability of the supply of electricity to Israelis living in Judea and Samaria and to Palestinians alike.”
Until this new move, many Judea and Samaria Arab residents consumed electricity from the East Jerusalem Electric Company, which purchases electricity from the IEC and distributed it through its power lines to consumers. But in recent years, PA Arabs have reported frequent power outages due to infrastructure congestion as well as due to deliberate curbs by the IEC. The curbs were used as a means to collect hundreds of millions of shekels in debt accumulated by the EJEC.
Those debts also meant that, whether they liked it or not, the IEC Israeli customers subsidized their PA neighbors’ electricity – for which they thanked them by throwing firebombs and stones on their cars and uprooting their fields and orchards.
It’s a tradeoff.
The IEC was quick to clarify that the move to supply via substations does not resolve the issue of the EJEC’s monstrous debt.
PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that the substations will make it easier for the PA Arab population, in particular the EJEC, which supplied electricity to the Ramallah area, as well as to the Bethlehem district, which will now start using the Qalandiya substation.
“We welcome the cooperation between the parties and the regulation of steady supply of electricity throughout the West Bank,” Shtayyeh said (but was not quoted by WAFA). “Our direction is to establish a unified Palestinian electricity company that will be responsible for the electricity infrastructure – in order to prevent pirate connections and the dissemination of transmission among dozens of providers.”
If only the Arabs of the Palestinian Authority had learned from their own news agency about this wonderful improvement in their lives due to Israel’s generosity.