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Landau: PA Should Pay its Electricity Debts or Else

Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau writes Netanyahu, demands his intervention in regards to a huge PA electricity debt to Israel.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 9/4/2012, 3:12 AM

Minister Dr. Uzi LAndau
Minister Dr. Uzi LAndau
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Energy and Water Minister Dr. Uzi Landau wrote a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday, demanding his intervention in regards to a Palestinian Authority debt to the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC).

Landau threatened he would order the IEC to disconnect the power in the PA if the entity does not pay its debts.

“According to the IEC, the total debt accumulated by the Palestinian Authority to the company stands at more than 700 million shekels,” Landau wrote Netanyahu. He stressed that the IEC is currently in a complex financial situation, resulting from the shortage of natural gas among other reasons, and as such cannot and should not bear the burden of financing the PA’s debts.

He added, “Of course, under these circumstances, it is unacceptable to raise the electricity rates for consumers in Israel, due to the accumulated debts in respect to the consumption in the Palestinian Authority.”

Landau ended the letter by stating, “If no action is taken immediately to repay these debts and ensure future payments, I will order the IEC to take all the necessary steps to ensure these debts are collected, with all the implications that may arise.”

The PA acquires 95% of its electricity in Judea and Samaria and 75% of its electricity in Gaza from Israel.

Several months ago, Environmental Minister Gilad Erdan recommended that Israel cut power to Gaza in order to conserve electricity for its own use.

The supply of the increasingly-scarce energy commodity was significantly reduced when Egypt reneged on its decades-old contract to supply natural gas to Israel. The natural gas powers the generators that produce electricity to the Jewish State, which also supplies the Gaza region.

It is “absurd,” said Erdan, that Israelis should suffer blackouts over the hot summer months while a “terrorist entity next door is supplied with electricity they don't even pay for.”

The PA has in the past blamed Israel for its raising electricity prices in the areas under its control. An official in the Palestine Electric Company said that “the increase in the electric bills in the PA is due to the increase in the prices in Israel.”

The Utilities Regulatory Commission estimated in January that electricity rates in Israel are going to rise by 6.6 percent over the course of the year in 2012.

By the end of 2014, the price of power is expected to be 31 percent higher than it is at present.