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Israeli restrictions damaging Palestine energy sector: World Bank

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo shows Palestinian electricians repairing electric cables in the occupied West Bank.

The World Bank says Israeli restrictions have prevented the development of the energy sector in large areas of the West Bank, and the volatile atmosphere in the occupied Palestinian territories have discouraged the private sector from investing in Palestine’s energy sector.

The US-based international financial institution said in a statement released on Wednesday that the Palestinian energy market is small and the chances to expand and develop the energy sources are very limited, at least for the time being.

The statement also mentioned the factors that prevent the repayment of unpaid electricity bills by Palestinians. The main factors are the absence of institutionalized and transparent invoicing by the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), as well as the high interest rates for late payments set unilaterally by the Israeli regulator.

The World Bank report said the power sector in a healthy economy is expected to generate revenues and contribute to economic development, but the lack of a power energy sector is putting immense pressure on the Palestinian economy.

Steen Lau Jorgensen, the World Bank’s country director for the West Bank and Gaza, said the outstanding payments owed to the IEC took a heavy toll on a struggling Palestinian fiscal situation, and have led to arbitrary cuts in the power supply.

He added that these outstanding payments have been deducted from the tax revenues owed to the Palestinian Authority by Israel.

A Palestinian boy sits amid the rubble of buildings that were destroyed during Israeli war against Gaza Strip last summer, in the Shejaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City, March 31, 2015. (© AFP)

 

Earlier, the Palestinian Health Ministry warned of a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip if Israel does not lift its crippling siege on the region.

A ministry spokesman, Ashraf al-Qidra, said on Tuesday that the health situation was worsening in the impoverished coastal enclave due to Israel’s siege.

The official said that hundreds of patients in the coastal sliver were in life-threatening conditions as they were in an urgent need of medical treatment, warning that their lives will be at risk if Israel continues its siege on the region.

The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007. The blockade, which has cut off the territory from the outside world, has led to an economic and humanitarian crisis in the densely-populated enclave.

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