Israel has informed the Palestinian Authority that it will initiate disconnections of electricity to various areas next week until it pays its debt to the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) and the Jerusalem District Electricity Company, Kan 11 News reported on Wednesday.

The amount the PA owes to the IEC has accumulated to half a billion shekels, according to the report. Senior PA officials have gone abroad to raise funds to reduce the debt and deficit.

The PA receives electricity from Israel, both directly through the IEC, and indirectly through the Jerusalem District Electricity Company, which buys it from Israel and supplies it to the PA. Over the years, the PA has accumulated a debt of half a billion shekels that it has not paid in the past two years for the Israeli electricity being supplied to it.

Following this, two weeks ago a second warning letter was sent to the PA. The letter states that, if it does not settle the debt, the IEC will begin initiated electric outages of four hours at a time starting next Wednesday. These outages will mainly occur in the Ramallah area, Bethlehem and villages in the Jerusalem area. The PA has passed on a list of areas in which it seeks not to cut off electricity. These are places where there are hospitals or essential facilities.

Just two months ago, in the summer, riots broke out in Tulkarm following power outages - so this move also has the potential to produce unrest in the area. About four years ago, the debt stood at two billion shekels. Israel conceded a quarter of the amount, another portion was paid and the remainder was spread over two years.