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Official: Israeli company to delay cutting West Bank electricity

Sept. 1, 2012 7:52 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 4, 2012 5:13 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- An Israeli electricity company will postpone plans to cut off electricity to the West Bank by two weeks, a Palestinian electricity official said Saturday.

Thafer Milhim, director of the electricity systems council, told Ma'an that an agreement has been reached with the Israeli electric company to delay planned electricity cuts.

"We have reached an agreement about a new rate of tariffs with companies and we have focused on families with low incomes," Milhim said.

"As a system council we have issued a call to all companies to commit to those tariffs and in case the companies disobey the law they will be fined and punished and at most their license will be confiscated from them," he added.

In August, the Jerusalem Electricity Company received an official warning from the Israeli Electric Corporation that it would cut off electricity due to unpaid debts amounting to 424 million shekels ($105 million), Hasan Muslih, a member of the JEC's board of directors, told Ma'an.

A major reason for the accumulation of debt is that refugee camps in the West Bank refuse to pay their bills, Muslih said. There is also a disparity in the buying and selling tariff of electricity, he added.

The threatened cut to supplies would affect areas in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Jericho, Muslih said, adding that power cuts in the West Bank could become as frequent as in the Gaza Strip.
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