The Palestinian Authority has begun paying back its debt to the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), chipping away at its 1.8 billion shekel ($519 million) electric bill, which has hitherto gone unpaid.
Last week, the PA began a 700 million shekel ($202 million) payment to the IEC, Reshet Bet reported Monday morning.
Thus far, 10% of the payment, or 70 million shekels ($20 million) has been transferred from the PA to the IEC. The remaining 630 million shekels is expected to be transferred to the IEC this week.
Sources within the PA quoted by the Reshet Bet reported said that while the reduction of the PA’s debt to the IEC, and the opening of a new power station, would improve the PA’s power supply, particularly in the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem, power outages would likely continue, particularly in Bethlehem.
Dozens of PA residents protested in Bethlehem last week following a series of power outages in the area.
Three months ago the IEC warned the Palestinian Authority’s electric company that because of its failure to pay back its debt, the supply of power would be cut for two hours a day. A month earlier, the IEC announced that it would cut a number of PA towns from the power supply over the unpaid debt.
Neither the two-hour daily cuts to the power supply nor the removal of some PA towns from the supply were fully implemented, however, with only a handful of areas affected by the two-hour cuts.