Electricity was cut off in large areas of the West Bank on Tuesday, after the Israeli electricity company began to ration the supply to the Palestinians because of the accumulation of debts.
The Jerusalem District Electricity Company published a program that includes power cuts for certain hours in most areas in the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem for several consecutive days.
The Israeli Electric Corporation supplies electricity to the Palestinian Territories through the Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JEDCO), which has the distribution exclusivity in the central West Bank.
The Israeli company said it had adopted power rationing measures due to the accumulation of debts. It added that it had sent several warnings to the concerned authorities about the urgent need to pay the outstanding bills, but to no avail.
The power company received a green light from the Israeli government on the move, which came amid a major financial crisis facing the Palestinian Authority.
On Tuesday, JEDCO confirmed that it has received its third warning from the Israeli Electric Corporation that it will begin cutting electricity to the Palestinian West Bank cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho within the coming week.
Hisham al-Omari, chairman of JEDCO, said the move was beyond the company’s control, describing it a “collective punishment against the Palestinian people.”
The head of the Palestinian Energy Authority, Dhafer Melhem, said that the Israeli government was seeking, through these sanctions, to “pressure the Palestinian government to accept the terms of an agreement that does not meet the Palestinian rights.”
The Authority announced that it has repaid over the past two months about $100 million in debts.
The total debt reaches around $485 million.
The Israeli move came after the failure of negotiations with the Authority that began two years ago.