MKs: Why Make IEC Shoulder PA's Electric Bill?
The Palestinian Authority owes the Israel Electric Company NIS 1.5 billion ($600 million), and the bill grows by NIS 200-230 million (around $60 million) a month, yet it appears that the PA has no intention of ever paying, said Yiftah Ron-Tal, Chairman of the IEC.
In Gaza, they use more electricity at night now than they have been using during the day over the past two years, Ron-Tal told MKs at a special Knesset session on the matter. “In general, when a customer doesn't pay on a consistent basis, we cut off electricity, but in this case the government told us not to do so,” said Ron-Tal. “We tried to negotiate with the PA, but they refused to make a deal. We asked the High Court to intervene, and have asked the government to cover the bill, since they are the ones that asked us to keep the power flowing.” So far the company has not gotten any help on the matter, he said.
MK Erel Margalit (Labor) said that it was unfair to make the IEC shoulder the burden. “They should not be held hostage, even if it is a delicate political matter,” he said. “The government should take this debt upon itself.” MK Nissim Ze'ev (Shas) said that even if it was impossible to cut off electricity to Gaza, “we should at least cut off other funding that they are using to pay terrorists.”
MK Orit Struk (Jewish Home), one of the organizers of the hearing, called on the government to halt all transfer payments to the PA. “We cannot allow Israel to be a partner to the evil acts of the PA. These are the murderers of the Fogel family and Baruch Mizrahi, among many others. They all get paid on our money. We want to transfer the money the PA is supposed to get to the IEC, at least to deny the PA access to the funds.”