The Israel Electric Company (IEC) has stepped up its actions against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and has cut power to various areas in the PA for three hours over the PA’s unpaid bills.
The IEC limited the power to Ramallah on Sunday as a step to pressure the Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO) to pay its outstanding debt of NIS 1.7 billion (about $500 million).
The IEC in August notified the Prime Minister, the Finance and Energy Ministers, the Electricity Authority and the IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) that due to the PA’s outstanding bill, it intends to implement the power cut procedure.
The High Court of Justice ruled in July that the IEC needs to provide a 35-day notice after which it can begin with its limiting of electricity.
In August, it was announced that Israel and the PA agreed to settle the bills and the PA would pay NIS 300 million to cover the debt to the Israeli electricity company. The agreement stipulated that the money would be deducted from the tax funds that Israel collects on behalf of the PA and that the parties will work to formulate an orderly electricity purchase contract.
However, an apparent failure prompted the IEC to commence with its power cut policy two months ago with blackouts instated for two hours in different parts of the PA and at different times. The hours now extended to three, and the IEC is warning that this will be increased if the JDECO does not pay its debt.
The dispute surrounding the PA’s unpaid electric bills has been going on for several years and the IEC has previously cut power to the PA.