Israel Electric Corporation to reduce power to Bethlehem

Move follows temporary reduction of electricity supply to Jericho over Palestinian debt of $451 million

Illustrative photo of power lines carrying electricity (Nati Shohat/Flash90, File)
Illustrative photo of power lines carrying electricity (Nati Shohat/Flash90, File)

The Israel Electric Corporation was planning Monday to halve the supply of electricity to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in response to unpaid bills, Army Radio reported.

Similar moves were taken in Jericho on Thursday over debts the IEC put at NIS 1.7 billion ($451 million).

The bulk of the debt, NIS 1.4 billion ($371 million) is owed by the Jerusalem District Electricity Company, said the IEC, with the remaining NIS 300,000 ($79,350) owed by the Palestinian Authority.

Thursday’s cuts led to blackouts, but full supply was restored later the same day, according to Mansour Nassar of the JDECO.

It affected up to 30,000 people of a total population of around 50,000 in the city and surrounding area, according to Jericho governor Majed al-Fityani.

Hisham al-Omri, director of the JDECO, told the Haaretz newspaper last week that there was a disagreement over rate calculation and interest rates and that a lawsuit against the IEC was pending in the Jerusalem Municipal Court.

The Palestinian Authority is struggling financially and depends largely on foreign aid. It relies heavily for electricity supplies on Israel, which also provides power to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

In February 2014, the company and the Palestinian Authority struck a deal to resolve an outstanding debt after the IEC had cut electricity to the West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin over unpaid bills of NIS 1.9 billion ($482 million).

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