Debt Collection: “A Grave Human Rights Violation”


9 Tammuz 5776

Friday, July 15 2016

 

SYNOPSIS: Attempted collection of Palestinian debt has now become a grave human rights violation in Israel.

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*Do you remember . . .

That two weeks ago we predicted that all of the actions that PM Netanyahu announced in the wake of the murders of Hallal Ariel and Rabbi Miki Mark would never take place.

At that time, we noted that Netanyahu’s modus operandi, which he has followed countless times in the past, is to announce increased funding and construction for communities in Judea and Samaria and then to cancel the funding and construction almost immediately thereafter.

Two weeks ago, Netanyahu declared that 40 million shekels would be earmarked for the communities of the Mt. Hebron Regional Council.

Last night, Netanyahu canceled that 40 million shekel outlay.

*With so many people coming to Israel this summer . . .

Ben Gurion airport opened 5-7 new “spaces” for extra-wide body planes landing at the airport. The reason for the variable 5-7 is that the number of spaces depends on just how wide the planes are that are occupying the spaces.

It is expected that even this modest space increase will greatly reduce delays into and out of the airport.

*Speaking of so many people coming and going from Ben Gurion . . .

It was announced yesterday that the airline with the worst “on time” record is El Al. This comes as no surprise because El Al security is stringent (to say the least). More than this, anyone who has flown with El Al (as your humble servant did a month ago) knows that dealing with Israelis getting on and off airplanes is no picnic.

*Speaking of goings on at Ben Gurion . . .

Yesterday’s arrest/detention of former Netanyahu Chief of Staff Ari Harrow as he landed at Ben Gurion was almost shocking. Why the Fraud Unit of the police felt like they had to nab him in the airport and not at his home 30 minutes later is anyone’s guess.

Harrow is being investigated for multiple reasons having to do with the 2009 campaign of Benjamin Netanyahu. Last week, Attorney General Mandelblit announced that “probe” (not a criminal investigation) into possible “money laundering” by the Netanyahu campaign was being launched. As one of Netanyahu’s chief fundraisers, Harrow presumably has a lot of information.

In addition, Harrow being investigated about convoluted sale of his company 3H Global in 2014.

TODAY’S BLOG:

Ramallah and the surrounding area at night. Who pays for all the electricity? Certainly not the Palestinians. (Picture source on photo).

Ramallah and the surrounding area at night. Who pays for all the electricity? Certainly not the Palestinians. (Picture source on photo).

The Israel Electric Company (IEC) supplies electricity to all of Israel as well as Areas A, B, and C of Judea and Samaria (and even to parts of Gaza).

However, in what can only be described as an egregiously discriminatory situation, electricity rates for Palestinians have long been far lower for Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria than for Israelis anywhere. Nevertheless, Palestinian residents of these areas refuse to pay their already ridiculously low electrical bills (and Israeli citizens are forced to pick up the slack in the form of paying even higher rates).

Three months ago, in an attempt at collection, the Israel Electric Company began periodically restricting electricity to non-payers in Judea and Samaria. Almost immediately, the Israel Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction against such restrictions.

Yesterday, the scene moved to eastern Jerusalem where Palestinians have run up a debt of more than 1.7 billion shekels (about $436 million dollars). Following up on the previous Supreme Court ruling,  Judge Menachem Mazuz ruled yesterday that the Israel Electric Company cannot stop electricity to homes in eastern Jerusalem in which residents have not paid their electric bill.

The ruling came in response to a petition reportedly filed by Anat Klein and Michael Ginsburg of GKH (Gross, Kleinhendler, Hodak, Halevy, Greenberg & Co.) law offices in Tel Aviv.

Their petition read in part:

“The IEC’s attempt to reduce electricity constitutes a grave human rights violation and is a form of collective disproportionate punishment harming the fundamental rights of people under the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty . . . we can not ignore the sensitive situation prevailing today in the region, especially in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and from the possible potential for violence that may come from limiting the supply of electricity by the IEC.”

Isn’t it astonishing that an attempt to have people pay their electrical bills “constitutes a grave human rights violation”?

Isn’t it pathetic that the Israeli judiciary now acts out of fear of Palestinian violence?

Once again, whether it is on the Temple Mount or paying electrical bills or in a myriad of other situations, our government and its institutions are so intimidated by the prospect of a Palestinian reaction that they have been cowed into sheep.

 

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