Official: No threats from Israel to disconnect electricity
Published Tuesday 25/02/2014 (updated) 27/02/2014 16:01
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A member of the Palestinian committee for organizing electricity on Tuesday denied that the regional Israeli electricity company had threatened to disconnect electricity for the West Bank.
Mujahid Salameh told Ma’an that Israel informed the Palestinian Authority through Quartet envoy Tony Blair that it would not disconnect electricity.
He said an agreement that organizes the relationship between PA and the electricity company was proposed, and it will ensure that the Palestinian territories will be treated as a state and receive a reduced tariff.
New arrangements might take place within two months, he added.
On Friday, the Jerusalem District Electricity Company's director said it has proposed to raise the price of electricity across the West Bank after the PA failed to pay millions of shekels in debt.
Hisham al-Omari told Ma'an that the company gave the PA two options, either to pay the 400 million shekels ($110 million) of debt, or raise electricity tariffs to become equivalent to Israel.
Al-Omari said that the problem stems from the PA's failure to pay its debts to the company, causing the company to face issues with the Israeli regional electricity company.
The government is still studying the proposal, he added.
Al-Omari ruled out the possibility of disconnecting electricity to areas in the West Bank, and denied knowledge of any plans that the Israeli regional company might disconnect service to the West Bank.
He explained that there has been a decrease in the number of people paying their monthly bills on time, adding that out of a monthly total of bills amounting to 120 million shekels ($35 million), less than 70 percent are paid regularly.
The business page of Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot reported Thursday that the director of the Israel electricity corporation, Yitfach Ron-Tal, sent a letter the Israeli government demanding it to either commit to paying the debts of the PA, or allow the company to disconnect electricity.
The letter was sent days earlier, and highlighted that debts had reached 1.3 billion shekels ($370 million), a figure which was increasing by 75 million shekels ($21 million) each month, it was reported.
In the letter, Ron-Tal provided three options available for the company: reducing electricity provided to Palestinians, filing a lawsuit in the higher Israeli court, or asking the government to approve plans to disconnect electricity to the Palestinian company beginning Feb. 23.