The Israel Electric Company is cutting back on the electricity it supplies the Palestinian Authority. The cuts, in which the IEC will turn off power to the PA for several hours a day, were approved by the High Court in April after the IEC petitioned the court for a solution that would enable it to collect a NIS 1.7 billion debt owed it by the East Jerusalem Electric Company, which manages the power grid in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Yehudah and Shomron.
The IEC has been trying for years to collect the debt owed it, which over the years has continued to grow. While there has been sporadic payment of some of the debt, the PA has not forwarded any money to the IEC since January, when Israel cut by about half the money it transfers to the PA over the cash it hands out to terrorists and their families.
The PA has refused to accept any money from Israel due it in customs and taxes, demanding that all the money be handed over and refusing a partial payment. The IEC has arranged for some of its money to come out of the tax money, and so far some NIS 200 million has been collected that way.
The IEC sent the PA electricity firm a warning letter last week demanding that it come to an arrangement over the debt, but the letter was ignored. As a result, beginning Sunday power will be cut off to PA-controlled areas for several hours a day. Speaking at a conference several weeks ago, IEC head Yiftach Ron-Tal said that “there is no reason for us to cut the electricity to residents of Tel Aviv when they don’t pay their bill, but not to cut off the PA when it doesn’t pay. We will begin that process later this month.”