In occupied East Jerusalem (EJ) reside 300,200 Palestinians. Of them, 77% are beneath the poverty line (according to figures of Israel’s National Insurance Institute). The Separation Barrier (SB), which runs through EJ, cuts whole neighborhoods off from municipal services. On the side of the SB that does get services, there is a severe housing shortage, and on the side that doesn’t, construction is wild and unsupervised. This reality has brought the outside-SB neighborhoods to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.
This situation is not accidental. It is rather the outcome of a declared government policy to push the Palestinian Jerusalemites beyond the borders of the neighborhoods that Israel annexed in 1967.
This report surveys this policy and some of its implementations. After dealing with the policy in general, it focuses on the ways in which the National Insurance Institute (NII, in Hebrew called Bituach Leumi) and the Employment Bureau (EB) blatantly disregard the economic deterioration of EJ Palestinians.
The report assembles many sources of data, using publications of the State of Israel as well as data collected throughout the past year by the WorkersAdviceCenter (WAC-MAAN, hereafter WAC). The latter includes data arising from many complaints against the institutions charged with laying out the social safety net, especially the EB and the NII.
We reveal in this report that both the NII and the EB have separate bureaus for residents of East and West Jerusalem. 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.
The report was written by Erez Wagner, director of WAC’s Jerusalem branch and Att. Aya Bartenstein.
For more information: Roni Ben Efrat, firstname.lastname@example.org