Israeli Taxpayers Renew Arab City’s Power Despite Unpaid $450 Million

“If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night–how art thou cut off!–would they not steal till they had enough?” Obadiah 1:5 (The Israel Bible™)

The state-run Israel Electric Company announced it had restored full power to the Arab city of Jericho near the Dead Sea after curbing the supply last Thursday. According to the IEC, Jericho has not paid its debt of 1.7 billion shekels ($450 million) owed by the Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO) and the Palestinian Authority.

The cut on Thursday resulted in blackouts, but according to JDECO’s spokesman Mansour Nassar, supply was restored later on Thursday. An Israeli official told AFP the supply was reduced by half, but JDECO suggested it had been cut by two-thirds.

The Palestinian Authority is struggling financially and depends on foreign aid for the bulk of its budget. It gets the majority of its electric power from Israel, as does the Gaza Strip.

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According to IEC, 1.4 billion shekel ($370 million) of the debt is owed by JDECO, which provides power to eastern Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho and a number of local villages. The rest, 300 million shekel ($80 million), is owed by the PA.

According to sources in IEC who spoke to Ha’aretz, the decision to pick Jericho for power cuts was based on the fact that the city receives some of its power from Jordan, and the municipal power authority should be able to distribute it in order to reduce damages. The decision was taken after lengthy attempts to collect the enormous debt from the PA and JDECO.

In February 2015, the IEC disconnected the cities of Shechem and Jenin twice, over PA debts that reached 1.9 billion shekel ($500 million). Earlier, Israel froze half a billion shekels ($133 million) of taxes it collects on behalf of the PA. The PA then complained to the Criminal Court in the Hague, and Jerusalem and Ramallah reached a compromise that resulted in half a billion shekels ($133 million) going to pay the IEC, and one billion shekel ($260 million) being handed over to the PA.