After the Israel Electric Corporation warned this week that West Bank Arabs
might soon experience power cuts due to hundreds of millions of unpaid debts,
the sides involved have come to a temporary understanding that will delay the
“It is an understanding that they will postpone the
procedures after our Id,” Hisham Omari, CEO of the Jerusalem District
Electricity Company (JDECO), told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
concludes this year on August 18, while the holiday of Id al-Fitr – the festival
of fast-breaking – occurs on August 19 and celebrations continue a few days
On Tuesday, the IEC had sent a letter to Omari saying that his
company owes the Israeli firm NIS 432 million in unpaid debts. Should the debts
remain unpaid, the IEC would both issue intermittent electricity cuts throughout
the JDECO electricity region and also freeze the company’s Jerusalem
Meanwhile, the IEC also announced that the Palestinian Authority
owes an additional NIS 239m. in debts from electricity use in Gaza and in
portions of the West Bank outside JDECO’s jurisdiction. JDECO’s region of
responsibility includes areas such as east Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah and
On Tuesday night, however, Palestinian Energy Authority chairman
Omar Kittaneh and IEC CEO Eli Glickman agreed to postpone negotiations over the
matter for another 10 days, until the end of the Id holiday, according to Omari.
During this time, the Palestinian government must decide upon an amount of money
that it will transfer as a down payment to the IEC, after which the two bodies
will agree upon a monthly debt repayment fee to fulfill the rest, Omari
“It is not a deal. It is an understanding,” he
said. “Hopefully after the 10 days we will achieve a deal.”
as his own company’s debts go, Omari has largely blamed these on Palestinian
refugee camp residents who refuse to pay their electricity bills, as well as NIS
120m. owed to him by PA government agencies that have faltered on their
payments. The government, he said, is actively working on a way to repay its
debt to JDECO and will hopefully provide a time frame soon.
the refugees to pay their electricity bills, the government is considering
introducing special, partially subsidized tariffs to the camps, Omari explained.
After agreeing to pay these tariffs, the residents would receive fully
functional, renewed networks as well as new power meters.
“I am not so
optimistic about this step because I know that in many refugee camps they do not
pay,” Omari said. “Hopefully this is a step that the authority will take after
the holiday – to make the refugee camps pay. Also, we have to negotiate with the
authority about the entire debt that exists in the refugee
Kittaneh did not return numerous requests for comment from the