The state-run Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) is to reduce energy supplies to Arab residents of Judea and Samaria due to Palestinian Authority (PA) electric debts worth over $450 million that have been accumulating for many long years, an official said Thursday.
"Due to a mounting debt worth nearly 1.8 billion shekels ($459 million), we have decided that as of today, electrical supply will be cut" for an hour each morning and another hour at night, an IEC official said.
The measure, which would "not cause general power cuts, will remain in place until the Palestinian Authority begins to settle its debts," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The move comes after Israel froze taxes it collects for the PA as a punitive response to the PA unilaterally joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) to sue Israel, with some suggesting the taxes be used to pay the PA's electric debts.
Reportedly enforcing the IEC's decision to reduce energy supplies will require the approval of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and also have to go through Israeli security officials.
IEC has reportedly tried to carry out the move several times in the past but was prevented from doing so by the premier's office.
In response to the unilateral ICC move by the PA, which breaches the 1993 Oslo Accords which created the body, Israeli ministers have threatened additional punitive measures, but Israel has not explicitly carried any out.
The IEC is also suing the Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO) for $150 million in unpaid bills.
JDECO is an Israeli Arab private company that purchases electricity from the IEC to supply to eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. It also provides power to Hamas-ruled Gaza.