East Jerusalem – A Socioeconomic Disaster:

<p>The National Insurance Institute and the Employment Bureau serve a government policy to push Palestinians beyond the wall and “enhance Israeli sovereignty”</p>
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3. The National Insurance Institute and the Employment Bureau as tools of policy

The NII and the EB have the important task of preventing decline into poverty and providing an economic safety net when people undergo periods of unemployment, job accidents, and other disasters. In this section, however, we shall view the work of the NII and EB in East Jerusalem against the background of the policy of pushing Palestinian Jerusalemites outside the Separation Barrier (SB).

3.1. Introduction – separate bureaus for East and West Jerusalemites

Both the NII and the EB have separate bureaus for residents of East and West Jerusalem. Complaints reveal that the EJ bureaus employ different procedures from those used elsewhere in the country, especially in West Jerusalem. The meaning of this difference is twofold. The direct result is obstruction of claims. An additional result is the sense among Palestinians that there is no point in turning to these institutions, since their claims are doomed to failure. This impression was confirmed by an EB representative who told a WAC employee that of all the appeals filed by employment seekers in 2013, 100% were rejected by the EB Appeals Committee.

According to NII data, in 2012 only 5.75% of the 41,000 EJ families living below the poverty line received Income Maintenance. The comparative figure for that year among the 31,000 poor Jewish families in West Jerusalem was 9.22%. This is especially serious in light of the fact that the average income of families below the poverty line in EJ is significantly lower than that of such families in West Jerusalem. The evidence reaching us and the complaints WAC handles have shed light on the conduct which causes this gap.

3.2. Examples of complaints handled by WAC involving the National Insurance Institute and the Employment Bureau

3.2.1. Background

In the first half of 2014, WAC handled 116 individual cases. Of these, 86 concerned the NII, involving claims for income maintenance, unemployment benefits, and work accidents. 30 cases concerned the EB, including real time telephone intervention, helping women register, foiling referral to fictitious or inappropriate jobs, preventing the logging of refusals, and appeals.

We shall present some examples, but first a little background. In order to file a claim for Income Maintenance or unemployment benefits with the NII, the claimant must come to the EB for referral to suitable work. The EB must register the claimants’ visits, even if they have yet to make their claims to the NII. The claimants must present themselves for every job interview they are referred to. If a claimant refuses a suitable job offer, s/he is denied unemployment benefits. Due to the sensitivity of such denial (especially in cases of Income Maintenance, which is a stipend for minimal existence with dignity), procedures have been laid out for logging cases where a claimant refuses a job. The clerk must log the refusal in writing, must notify the claimant concerning the registration, and must state the reason, along with a right to appeal. As for the NII, when one files a claim there, one is supposed to receive a written confirmation for the claim and the documents submitted.

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