Palestinian cities in the West Bank got their electricity back after two days of several blackouts, caused by Israel’s State Electricity Corporation (IEC).
Since March 31, this corporation has been reducing the power supply for hours in these cities. More specifically, they cut off the electric currents in Jericho, the Jordan valley on Sunday; they also divided the electric power by 50 percent in Bethlehem on Monday, and on Tuesday the electricity was reduced in the city of Hebron.
The reason why people got their power cut off was because these Palestinian cities had a debt of nearly $460 million to Israel’s State Electricity Corporation in unpaid electricity bills.
More outages were planned for the upcoming two weeks, but an agreement was made public on Wednesday. The Israel’s State Electricity Corporation and the Palestinian cities in the West Bank reached an agreement of paying immediately 20 million shekels, which is over five million U.S. dollars, in addition to ongoing daily payments of the electricity bills to get the electricity back.
The corporation says that this agreement was a temporary fix to the problem and that the Palestinian government must find a solution to pay the rest of the debt and avoid more power reductions. Palestinians need to find a solution within two weeks, otherwise, the IEC will cut off the electricity again. The parties are negotiating and trying to find a long term solution.
A chairman of the IEC named Yiftah Ron-Tal, in the company’s statement on Wednesday, said,: “We did not want to carry out these difficult steps. I am pleased that the Palestinians are willing to immediately transfer funds to cover a part of the debt and to reach a solution, once and for all.”
The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is dealing with an outstanding financial problem, due to the electrical restrictions of Israel in the West Bank, and it is in need of foreign aid.
The PNA depends on Israel to buy electricity; it is the only source of power they have. Israel sells the electricity to Palestinian distribution companies that will, ultimately, supply its households.
The constant blackouts and power reductions from the IEC had caused people to criticize the corporation and made them see it as an act of collective punishment for the Palestinians.
Source: The Washington Post