Decision stems from Abbas’ Palestinian Authority’s refusal to cover its NIS 1.9 billion ($492 million) electric bill.
• Nablus mayor accuses Israel of exercising ‘collective punishment’
Israel’s state-owned electric company cut power to two major Palestinian cities in the West Bank on Monday for roughly 45 minutes over a huge debt of NIS 1.9 billion ($492 million).
“Today, the Israel Electric Corporation limited the supply of electricity to five power lines in Nablus and Jenin for 45 minutes,” a statement by the company read, adding that further cuts down the line were possible.
“The IEC has for a long time warned the debtors and the relevant officials and government ministries about the immediate need to repay the debt, but so far no solution for its reimbursement has been found,” the statement continued.
Ghassan Al-Shaka’a, Nablus’ mayor, slammed the power cut as a form of “collective punishment,” Israel Radio reported.
The mayors of both Nablus and Jenin said that the move was politically motivated and came as a result of the Palestinian Authority’s attempts to gain recognition by international organizations such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Had the power outage not been collective punishment, Israel would have simply deducted the money owed from tax funds the Israeli government is currently withholding from the PA, the mayors told Israel Radio.
Israel froze the transfer of half a billion shekels in tax revenues to Ramallah on January 3rd, – a decision which violates Israel’s obligations under the Paris Protocol on Economic Relations – in response to the PA’s bid to join the ICC and to President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to sign the Rome Statute.
The Paris Protocol (Protocol on Economic Relations between the Government of the State of Israel and the PLO, representing the Palestinian people) was signed as part of the Oslo peace negotiations on the 29 April 1994.
On Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry voiced his concerns that the PA would collapse without a cash injection, leading to serious entailing serious security repercussions for both the Palestinians and Israelis.
“If the Palestinian Authority ceases or were to cease, security cooperation – or even decide to disband as a result of their economic predicament, and that could happen in the near future if they don’t receive additional revenues – then we would be faced with yet another crisis that could also greatly impact the security of both Palestinians and Israelis,” Kerry stated. “And that would have the potential of serious ripple effects elsewhere in the region.”
Last month, IEC announced that it will limit the power supply to the Palestinian Authority to a few hours every day over unpaid bills.
The company’s CEO, Eli Glickman, informed Israeli security officials of the decision in a letter issued earlier in January.
View original i24news publication at: http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/62124-150223-israel-electric-company-briefly-cuts-power-to-major-palestinian-cities