Israel’s national electricity company said Sunday it was cutting power to parts of the occupied West Bank due to outstanding payments amounting to nearly $483 million. The Israel Electric Corporation said it was owed 1.7 billion shekels in debts from the main Palestinian power distributor for the West Bank, which is based in east Jerusalem. From Monday, the company “will reduce the current in some areas of the West Bank” because of the debts, it said in a statement. It said it had found no alternatives to being paid. But the Palestinian Authority denounced the move as “blackmail” by the Israeli authorities. “The (Israeli) occupation government is seeking, through these sanctions and the exploitation of electricity debts, to put pressure on the Palestinian government to accept an agreement that does not respect the rights of the Palestinians,” said Palestinian energy authority head Zafer Melhem. The Palestinian Authority says in the past two months it has repaid nearly $100 million in debts accumulated by the east Jerusalem-based distributor of Palestinian municipalities. The Palestinian health ministry has warned the powers cuts could affect hospitals and medical centres.
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