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Israeli gives final warning to Palestinian Authority over electricity debts

The Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) issued on Sunday a final warning to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in regards to its debts amounting to about half a billion dollars, Israeli media have reported.

The IEC refused the PA’s offer to schedule its debts’ payments over several years. It demands that at least half of the debts be paid now, and then the remaining amount can be paid in instalments.

The PA receives 95 per cent of its electricity supply in the West Bank and 75 per cent in the Gaza Strip from Israel. The PA currently owes IEC up to NIS1.4 billion, which is about half a billion dollars. If an agreement is not reached by Thursday, the electricity supply will be cut.

Several Israeli sources are claiming that the PA has failed to pay the debts despite getting money for this purpose from several international donors.

The IEC and the PA have been discussing the debt payments for some time. The PA usually tries to evade its duties by giving pledges to pay at certain dates. But according to Israel media reports, the PA recently demanded that the IEC cancels part of its debts, and for the remaining debt to be paid in instalments in the coming years.

The offer was rejected by the IEC, which ordered that half the debt be paid by Thursday, stressing that only then can payment of the remaining debt possibly be negotiated.

Director of the Israeli electricity company Yiftah Ron-Tal turned to the Israeli government to help collect the PA’s debt. “If the IEC were a private company, it would have cut off the supply a long time ago,” Israeli newspaper Maariv quotes Ron-Tal as saying.

He further explained: “If an ordinary citizen would not pay his electricity bill, we would disconnect him within a week. In this case, despite the immense financial debt that we have accumulated, we have been obligated to continue to provide electricity to the PA.”

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