Israel cuts off power to parts of West Bank

Israel cut off power to some parts of occupied West Bank on Sunday saying that it was owed debt amounting to almost US$483 million. 

Created On: Sep 23, 2019 10:46 ISTModified On: Sep 23, 2019 10:47 IST
Israel cuts off power to parts of West Bank

Israel cut off power to some parts of occupied West Bank on Sunday. The national electricity company of Israel announced on September 22, 2019 that it was cutting off power to some parts of West Bank due to outstanding payments.

The Israel Electric Corporation said that the outstanding electricity payments from the region amount to almost US$483 million. The company said that it was owed 1.7 billion shekels in debts from Palestine's main power distributor for the West Bank. The power distributor is based in east Jerusalem.

The company said that it will reduce the electric current in some areas of the West Bank from September 23. It said that it had found no alternative other than this to get the money that was owed. However, Palestinian has denounced the move calling it “blackmail” by the Israeli authorities.

Palestinian energy authority head Zafer Melhem stated that the Israeli government is seeking to put pressure on the Palestinian government to accept an agreement that does not respect the rights of the Palestinians through these sanctions and exploitation of electricity debts.

The Palestinian Authority claimed that it has repaid debts worth nearly USD 100 million in the past two months. The Palestinian health ministry further warned that the powers cuts could affect hospitals and medical centres. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had previously issued a warning to Israel that annexation of West Bank would violate the International law. 

West Bank

The West Bank is a landlocked territory, which is bordered by Jordan to the east and the Green Line separating it and Israel in the north, south and west.

The name ‘West Bank’ was given to the territory, which was captured by Jordan after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. The territory was occupied by Israel during the six-day war in 1967.

Under the Oslo Accords, which was signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in September 1993, the two sides agreed that West Bank and Gaza Strip would be treated as a single territorial unit.

Israel, however, instated a policy of forced separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in contravention of the Oslo agreement.

The Oslo accords created administrative districts with varying levels of Palestinian autonomy within each area. Under administrative Area C, Israel maintained complete civil and security control over 60 percent of West Bank. Officially, however, Israel maintains that the West Bank is a disputed territory.

This is not the first time that Israel has taken an extreme step with respect to the West Bank. In June 2002, Israel decided to build a wall to separate Palestinians in the West Bank from Israel, its settlements inside West Bank and from the East Jerusalem. The wall directly separated neighborhoods, separating Palestinians from their jobs, schools, medical facilities, property, relatives and holy places.

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