Israel Electric Corp., Palestinians Reach Deal to Suspend West Bank Power Cuts

Power supply to West Bank cities was disrupted over a mounting $460 million Palestinian debt; under new deal, PA to immediately transfer $4.2 million.

Palestinian carpenter Mahmoud Zaghlol sits without work during a power cut by Israel'S electric company at his shop in the West Bank city of Nablus, February 25, 2015.

Israel Electric Corp. and the Palestinian Authority reached a temporary agreement on Wednesday that would prevent further power supply reductions to West Bank cities.

IEC reduced the supply of electricity to West Bank cities in recent days over a mounting 1.74 billion shekel ($460 million) Palestinian debt.

Palestinian Authority officials and the IEC agreed on Wednesday that the PA will immediately transfer 20 million shekels in addition to its daily payments. At the same time, the sides will launch negotiations in attempt to reach a long-term solution. Should the talks fail to reach a solution within two weeks, the IEC would be allowed to again reduce power supply.

Joint chief chairman Ayman Odeh was involved in the negotiations, which were held with the blessing of Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz.

"As I said last night, we did not want to carry out these difficult steps," IEC chairman Yiftah Ron-Tal said on Wednesday. "I am pleased that the Palestinians are willing to immediately transfer funds to cover a part of the debt and to reach a solution, once and for all."

The IEC reduced electricity supply to Hebron and Bethlehem earlier this week as part of a plan to disrupt the power supply in various districts of the West Bank over the next two weeks in response to the failure of the Palestinian Authority and the Jerusalem District Electricity Company to pay their electricity bills.