The magic circle: How income-security benefits are denied to the Palestinians of East Jerusalem

Separate bureaus and procedures; refusal by clerks to receive documents and allow submission of claims; refusal by the Employment Bureau to receive and handle job seekers; referrals to fictitious jobs;...

Separate bureaus and procedures; refusal by clerks to receive documents and allow submission of claims; refusal by the Employment Bureau to receive and handle job seekers; referrals to fictitious jobs; humiliating procedures at government offices; failure to respond to claimants’ representatives – by these methods the National Insurance Institute and the Employment Bureau withhold the socioeconomic safety net from Israel’s poorest. 

A queu at the National Insurance Institue, March 2015

A queu at the National Insurance Institue, March 2015

 Preface:

After 48 years of occupation, Palestinians in East Jerusalem (EJ) face a humanitarian disaster – 229,300 of 307,600 residents live in extreme poverty, unknown anywhere in Israel.[1]

In order to fulfill their duties in the face of poverty, the National Insurance Institute (NII) and the Employment Bureau (EB) are supposed to make living stipends available, in particular an income-security benefit (ISB), which is a stipend based on an income test. The purpose is to provide opportunities for a dignified existence alongside vocational rehabilitation and job placement, thereby rescuing people from poverty.

However, the number of ISBs approved for EJ residents is proportionally very low, making it clear that these institutions are not fulfilling their duties. As indicated by this report, their methods are tainted with blatant discrimination. Adding grievance to injury are statements by government ministers (in the present government and the one before it), which hold that the ISBs in East Jerusalem are not a right, as they are for all other residents of Israel, but that they serve as “carrots and sticks” to control the Palestinian population.

According to data provided to WAC-MAAN by the NII, the percentage of claims for ISBs received and approved in East Jerusalem is unusually low relative to the percentage living below the poverty line. Of the claims submitted, the great majority are rejected on the argument that “appropriate documents were not submitted.” Many others are rejected because of noncompliance with the employment test (namely, reporting to the Employment Bureau and accepting any appropriate job).

Every year, the EJ WAC-MAAN office handles some 200 cases facing the EB and the NII, as well as advising hundreds more. The many complaints show a magic circle of claims-obstruction, which works as follows:

On the one hand, the NII often does not allow claimants to submit an application for an ISB if they do not attach all required documents at the time of submission. However, according to its guidelines (which take into account the despair of people who have reached this extremity) it is supposed to begin processing a claim regardless, informing the claimant in writing which documents are lacking. (See examples of individual cases in Part II.) Furthermore, in cases where a claim is indeed submitted, the NII consistently and systematically fails to provide written confirmation that it received the claim and the accompanying documents. The EB, for its part, refuses to register the claimant’s visit if he/she does not have an official signed receipt confirming submission of a claim to the NII. This is the case despite a guideline dictating that every job seeker must be received at the first visit to the EB and that this cannot be conditioned on the NII receipt. In addition, women encounter special obstacles, leading to physically unsuitable or even fictitious[2]  job referrals that result in denial of claims. The consequence of these factors is that most claims fail.

The guideline to begin processing claims even in the lack of documents is critical in the case of East Jerusalemites. While all Israeli citizens seeking an ISB must pass an income test (proving that their income does not suffice for dignified sustenance) and an employment test (proving that they visit the EB and accept appropriate job offers), East Jerusalemites must undergo in addition a meticulous residency test, in which they are often required to produce numerous documents proving that they and their family members reside in the city. This demand harbors an implicit threat that if the documents are not deemed satisfactory, the claimant will be forced to leave Jerusalem. The threat often inhibits the needy from submitting claims, even when they are entitled to an ISB by all parameters.

The following two-part report provides detailed data on the failure of the NII and the EB to distribute ISBs to those most in need.

 

Part I. The social safety net in East Jerusalem is full of holes

The income-security stipend (ISB) at the center of this report involves providing a basic monthly amount with vocational rehabilitation for those who are able to enter the workforce. Acceptance depends on compliance with two strict tests: 1. The income test, in which the claimant proves to the NII, that his/her income does not suffice for dignified subsistence as defined by law; 2. the employment test, which requires that the claimant appear (usually once a week) at the local EB and accept any job fitting his/her physical condition. Only if no appropriate job can be found does the applicant receive the ISB.

The vast majority of those who turn to the WAC-MAAN office in East Jerusalem ask for assistance that will enable them to realize the right to an ISB.

Registry machines outside the Employment Bureau in East Jerusalem, a reporting day for women, October 2015

Registry machines outside the Employment Bureau in East Jerusalem, a reporting day for women, October 2015

 

 More poverty – less support

Registry machines outside the Employment Bureau in East Jerusalem, a reporting day for women, October 2015

According to the 2015 Annual Statistical Handbook of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, 76% of the Palestinian residents (70% of families), including 84% of the children, in East Jerusalem (EJ) live below the poverty line. On average their income is lower by 41.4% than the income criterion for the poverty line within Israel.[3] However, the percentage of EJ residents found eligible for ISBs is significantly lower than the average among the country’s total poor. In 2013, only 7% of the EJ residents below the poverty line received ISBs. Although the EJ poor are 13% of all the poor in Israel, and their poverty rates are the most extreme, only 2.7% of the NII’s ISB payments reach their hands.

By comparison with the above, in 2013 22% of the residents of Israel (11.6% of the families) lived below the poverty line. Their average income was 32.8% lower than poverty-line income, and 24.13% received ISBs (excluding the East Jerusalem data, 26.5% of Israel’s poor received them).

In West Jerusalem, which also suffers high rates of poverty, the poor make up 8.2% of all Israel’s poor, with 27% of the residents (21.5% of families) living under the poverty line. Their average income is 36% lower than poverty-line income, but the rate of ISB recipients is higher: 10% of West Jerusalem’s poor receive them (compared to 7% in EJ).
The major point is this: While over a quarter (26.5%) of all Israel’s poor (excluding East Jerusalemites) were found eligible for ISBs, only 7% of East Jerusalem’s poor receive them, although their poverty is more widespread and extreme. This discriminatory treatment is one of the factors turning EJ into a humanitarian disaster zone.

After a request by WAC-MAAN to the NII’s Freedom of Information Department, we received the following data concerning those claims that it processed. From June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015, the EJ branch of the NII received 2,989 claims for ISBs, of which 2,767 were decided: 846 claims were accepted and 1,921 (69%) were denied. The Department provided the following table.

Table 1: 120 claims denied per month on average at the East Jerusalem branch of the National Insurance Institute between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015 (by main reason for claim denial)

Reason of denial by monthly average East Jerusalem branch
Failure to produce documents* 69
Failure to meet employment test (claimant and/or partner) 32
Income (denial because of excessive income) 12
Maintaining multiple vehicles 5
Vehicle valuation 1
Postponement due to studies 1
Total 120

*After a reminder notice and a notice of delayed processing

An analysis of the table shows that the main reason for denial of benefits was bureaucratic: 57% of the claimants failed to produce all the necessary documents. The second reason (26%) was the failure to meet the employment test. Another 10% of claims were denied because of failure to pass the income test.

The fact that most claims were rejected for bureaucratic reasons (regardless of whether the failure lay with the claimants or the NII) should have led the NII to check the branch’s procedures and find ways to make claim submission easier. This is especially the case when the population is Arabic-speaking and has been described by the NII itself as suffering from extreme poverty.  Yet instead of lightening the burden, additional difficulties are heaped upon the EJ residents, distancing them from fulfillment of the right to a dignified income. Indeed, when WAC-MAAN helped a number of people to submit their claims in Arabic, these were rejected on the grounds that Arabic is inadmissible.

As said in the preface, in addition to the employment and income tests, the EJ residents must also undergo a stringent residency test, for which they must supply numerous documents showing that they and their family members do indeed live in the city. At times these documents are hard to obtain, and in this way too eligibility is denied to people who otherwise meet all the criteria for an ISB.

The apparatus of disqualification

During the time of collecting the data presented above, the WAC-MAAN EJ branch represented 200 people. Of these, 158 approached the NII, 80 of them seeking ISBs (the others claimed on-the-job injury benefits and unemployment compensation). The remaining 42 approached the EB. We also collected dozens of additional complaints and testimonies in our field work and training sessions.

  • Of the 80 claims that we represented vis-à-vis the NII, 27 ended successfully, while 36 are still caught up in an endless correspondence, most of which consists of our demands that the NII should answer our letters.
  • In 95% of our cases, the NII refused to let people submit claims on the ground that they did not have all the necessary documents in hand.
  • In 70 of our cases we found that the NII had failed to confirm receipt of the claims.
  • In all the files we encountered cases where the clerks refused to provide written confirmation of receipt of documents, even though these had been hand-delivered by the claimants.
  • In all the files we encountered cases where clerks demanded documents orally without adding them to the written list as is done at NII branches throughout the rest of the country.

 

  • Concerning the 42 jobseekers whom we represented vis-à-vis the EB, 22 of their files dealt with hindrances in being received and classified at the EJ branch, as well as difficulties with the requirement to appear weekly. The most outrageous obstacle is the branch’s systematic refusal to receive jobseekers unless they produce an official document, signed by the NII, confirming that they have submitted a claim for income support. As said above, the NII branch usually refuses to supply such a document.
  • Another 13 cases on file concerned persons listed as job refusers. Some of these were wrongly classified at their first appearance before the EB, with the result that there were referred to jobs unsuited to their medical condition; others were referred to “fictitious jobs.”

 

Please see the tables on the next page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 2. All cases treated by WAC-MAAN before the National Insurance Institute between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015.

Type of claim Ended unsuccessfully Ended successfully Counseling only Still in treatment Total
Income support 7 23 14 36 80
Unemploymentcompensation 6 7 1 9 23
On-the-job injury 4 5 1 11 21
Other 10 7 6 11 34
Total 27 42 22 67 158

 

Table 3. All cases treated by WAC-MAAN before the Employment Bureau between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015.

Type of claim Ended unsuccessfully Ended successfully Counseling only Still in treatment Total
Attendance 1 8 2 11 22
Listed as job refuser 3 5 0 5 13
Other 2 3 0 2 7
Total 6 16 2 18 42

 

Among the claims for ISBs accompanied by WAC-MAAN vis-à-vis the NII and the EB, we encountered two main failures on the part of these institutions that led to denials:

 

Part II. A chronicle of denials foretold: exemplary cases

Here we detail some cases in which WAC-MAAN has been involved in the last year, representing income-support claimants at the Israeli National Insurance Institute (NII) and jobseekers at the Employment Bureau (EB). These cases are just the tip of the iceberg with regard to the obstructions that East Jerusalem jobseekers face each day.

Special procedures are used in the East Jerusalem EB to prevent female NII claimants from signing up as jobseekers. Often the NII does not allow their claims to be submitted and does not issue receipts for claims that have been submitted – contrary to protocol and contrary to the practices of its branches elsewhere.

The stories of Amal, Hibba, and Ibtisam

Those seeking an income-security benefit (ISB) must submit a claim as soon as they become eligible for it. The ISB is defined as the minimum required for living in dignity. It is not paid retroactively but only from the date the claim was made. The claims form emphasizes the importance of submitting immediately, even if the claimant does not yet have all the required documents; these can be submitted later. The NII is required to issue written confirmation (a receipt) of the claim submission and of any related documents, as well as written requests for additional documents if these are required. These papers are the only proof that a timely claim has been submitted.

In addition, claimants are required to present themselves at the EB as a condition for receiving the ISB. The day of registering at the Bureau is the first day for which the stipends will be paid.

On a daily basis, WAC-MAAN representatives encounter violations of these protocols at both institutions. Such violations lead to the withdrawal or denial of ISBs, all the more so when both institutions are involved.

Amal and her children suffered abuse at the hands of the children’s father, who was also the only breadwinner. After Amal submitted a complaint against him with the police, he was arrested; contact with him was cut off and Amal began a new life. She turned to the welfare services and was directed to professional training programs offered by the Economics Ministry. At the same time, Amal wanted to submit a claim for an ISB, but the NII branch in East Jerusalem refused to accept it, saying that some documents were missing. This is against protocol which, as noted, compels the NII to register the claim and request further documents as required. This is not just a technical problem, because the refusal to register the claim also postpones the date of eligibility, and there is no need to elaborate on the significance of this delay for those who need this minimal support.

At the same time, Amal went to the EB to register as a jobseeker, as required, but there too she encountered various obstacles, as follows.

On her first visit, the security guards refused to let her enter, claiming that she had arrived on a day reserved for men only. It should be noted that when men turn up on days reserved for women, the guards let them enter, so this is not just a violation of protocol in comparison to other branches, but also discrimination against women.

When Amal came on a day reserved for women, the Bureau’s director, Moshe Becker, refused to let her register as a jobseeker, claiming that in order to do so she had to present a signed and stamped document from the NII confirming that she had submitted a claim there. This demand is against protocol, which permits initial registry by means of an ID card alone. In this case too, this is not just a technical issue – postponing the day of initial registry (or preventing the claimant from coming into the Bureau) means the postponement of eligibility for an ISB.

Amal’s case was finally handled by the two institutions as required only after she had contacted WAC-MAAN and it had intervened: WAC-MAAN sent her claim to the NII, including a copy to the director of the East Jerusalem branch, and immediately contacted the director of the Employment Services by fax and SMS, stating its obligations as laid out in the protocols. If WAC-MAAN had not intervened, Amal would have had her benefits denied.

Hibba too contacted WAC-MAAN. The EB had refused to allow her to register as a jobseeker, saying she could not register without a signed document from the NII confirming that she had submitted a claim for income support. WAC-MAAN immediately contacted the bureau director and arranged another date for Hibba to register. However, when Hibba arrived on the appointed day, again the clerk refused to register her, saying she had to have the signed and stamped document from the NII. In a conversation with WAC-MAAN, the clerk said he was acting according to specific instructions from the director himself. WAC-MAAN representatives contacted the director and demanded that Hibba be allowed to register. It also demanded that the previous procedure be canceled. His written response was surprising: while confirming the existence of the instruction, the director repeated that in order to register, the claimant had to bring the signed document from the NII. This was a public acknowledgment that the East Jerusalem branch has a special procedure which is contrary to EB protocols and the practices in other branches. Only after WAC-MAAN once again insisted on Hibba’s right to register was she finally permitted to do so. In light of his letter confirming the “special arrangement” at this branch, it is certain that without WAC-MAAN’s assistance, Hibba would not have been able to register. The fact that he finally agreed to register her shows that the demand he had presented in writing just a few hours previously had nothing to do with regular procedures, and in fact there was nothing to stop Hibba from registering.

Ibtisam encountered similar obstacles. At the beginning of 2015, Ibtisam and her husband Aiman submitted a claim for income support and immediately started presenting themselves at the EB. First Aiman went on a day reserved for men, and then Ibtisam went. But, unlike Aiman, Ibtisam encountered the same demand – that she present stamped and signed confirmation from the NII.

As noted, this demand goes against protocols; nonetheless, she returned to the NII to get the required receipt. However, the NII refused to issue her confirmation that she had submitted a claim – though it is required to do so.

For two months Aiman and Ibtisam went back and forth, until finally, after Aiman had contacted the director of the Employment Services a number of times, the director decided to find out what was going on. He discovered that the two had indeed submitted a claim, and he told Aiman that Ibtisam could present herself the following day. However, when she came with Aiman, the branch clerk Yaacov Beniashvili told them, “You can do whatever you like with the NII, but I don’t work for the NII, I don’t know Mr. Becker [who is his immediate supervisor] and I cannot register your wife unless I have a printed document of confirmation.” Beniashvili finally registered Ibtisam only after the manager had personally intervened, but it was too late: the NII had already rejected her application on the grounds that she had failed to present herself at the EB.

With WAC-MAAN’s help, the two submitted another claim which was approved. We are now preparing a claim regarding the payments, since the first claim was rejected because of the institutional mishandling.

Through WAC-MAAN’s activities on the ground, its staff have discovered that the East Jerusalem branch consistently and systematically prevents claims from being submitted, using the excuse that “documents are missing” – sometimes without even checking the documents that are submitted with the claim. Furthermore, when a claim is submitted, no confirmation is given, while the EB refuses to register jobseekers who do not have the confirmation. This procedure is contrary to all protocols.

In addition to the EB director’s explicit admission about this “special procedure” at his bureau, a meeting with the NII director of the East Jerusalem branch, Etti Raanan, confirmed that those claiming ISBs are indeed sent away if even a single document is missing. Despite her promises to change this procedure and ensure that receipts be issued, little has changed, despite a few symbolic improvements.

The result of this two-headed violation of protocols – where documents are unnecessarily demanded by the EB while the NII refuses to issue them – is catastrophe. East Jerusalem residents who need these stipends are shunted from one office to another and eventually lose their eligibility.

The NII violates protocols by failing to issue confirmation of submission. It fails to give reasons for its decisions in writing or in any form; physical conditions at the EB are substandard and may even cause the sick to stay away.

Abed’s story

Abed has serious health problems, and during the last couple of years, following a few slipped discs and a back injury, his health has deteriorated to the point where he is unable to work. In 2014 he submitted two claims to the NII. During the handling of his case, he supplied various documents, but the East Jerusalem branch did not issue receipts confirming the submission of the documents. Thus he was asked again and again to provide the documents he had already submitted. Because he had no way of proving that the documents had already been submitted, he did as they asked and submitted them again.

Nevertheless, the two claims were rejected on the grounds that he had not supplied the required documents. Since he had no confirmation that the documents had been submitted, he was at a loss.

Abed turned to WAC-MAAN, and its legal department submitted a case to the labor court to approve his claim from 2014. The case is still being heard, but during the first debate, Jerusalem Regional Labor Court Judge Dita Pruginin said that in light of repeated claims about the NII’s failure to give receipts for documents submitted, the issue deserves to be more deeply investigated. After this first debate, the NII announced it was approving the claim from 2014.

In addition, on WAC-MAAN’s advice, Abed submitted another claim to the NII and EB in 2015. The claim was approved, but the payment was docked on the grounds that Abed had income from property of NIS 2000 per month, though in fact the income from this property is no more than NIS 400, if that. Abed’s and WAC-MAAN’s attempts to get the NII to clarify the reasons for the deduction were met with long silence, despite the NII’s obligation to respond to claimants and their representatives within a reasonable time in order to avoid unjustified deprival of the ISB. In the face of this silence, there was no choice but to approach the labor court again, even if just to get a clarification. It must be noted that receiving an explanation for the decision is fundamental – when the NII does not bother to give reasons, it is difficult to appeal decisions, and this further undermines claimants’ ability to exercise their rights.

On March 21, 2015, Abed slipped and injured his back. He was under doctor’s orders to remain in bed and avoid all physical effort. Therefore, he was unable to present himself at the EB. The NII rejected the documents confirming his sickness on the grounds that this was not enough to prevent him from working. In this way, his ISB was stopped for two months. However, the medical certificate confirming his condition was rejected contrary to protocol, which states that if there is any doubt concerning the medical condition of the claimant, the NII must contact the claimant’s doctor as well as the claimant in order to carry out a thorough assessment. Protocol also requires that the NII doctor give a reason for the rejection. These things were not done in Abed’s case. Only after WAC-MAAN’s intervention was Abed’s absence from the EB accepted and the ISB paid in retrospect. It must be noted that this delay caused Abed great harm, since he had to manage without an income at precisely the time when he was most incapacitated.

Abed suffers from serious backaches when he stands or sits for long periods, and he is able to walk only with a walker. He is now submitting a claim for disability, but until this is approved he must present himself at the EB each week. However, the line at the Bureau is long: it snakes outside the building without any shade from the sun or shelter from the rain, and without any seating. After waiting in this line, each claimant is required to go through a security check, which means waiting in another long line within the building. There are some registry machines, but these are not a solution since the long line for the machines means Abed has to arrive at 6:30 a.m., an hour before the machines are switched on, in order to avoid a long wait; also, the machines at the East Jerusalem branch are often out of order. Yet each claimant is required to see a clerk at least once a month.

Abed has also been mistreated by the security guards. For example, on one occasion he asked to be allowed to enter without waiting in line because of his physical problems. The guard permitted this but kept him standing long at the security check and forced his legs apart roughly and needlessly, causing him great back pain.

 ISBs were withdrawn because claimants were absent for health reasons, with no explanation given and contrary to protocols.

 Najah’s story

Najah underwent fertility treatment, and during the treatment she was also required to undergo some medical treatment which left her bedridden for two weeks on doctor’s orders. During this period her husband submitted her medical documents to the NII. At the end of the month, the two were surprised to discover that her ISB had been withdrawn because she had not presented herself at the EB.

WAC-MAAN intervened and discovered that the medical documents had not even been added to her file, and of course they had not been looked at.

WAC-MAAN contacted the branch director repeatedly and was finally told that the NII doctor had approved some but not all of the sick leave ordered by Najah’s doctor, which meant that the ISB had been withdrawn for two months. Again, this decision was not explained, and again the rejection of the medical documents appeared to be arbitrary – there was no attempt to clarify the matter with Najah or her doctor as is required. Again, WAC-MAAN’s attempts to get an explanation were unsuccessful, so it had to turn to the court.

A few months later, Najah received doctor’s orders to remain in bed again, but the fear of losing the benefits on which her family relies led her to report at the EB. A short time later, Najah miscarried.

ISB withdrawn after claimant was referred to unsuitable work; “refusal to work” registered unlawfully; and proceedings contrary to EB Appeals Committee protocols

Amal’s story

Amal has serious back problems and suffers from clinical depression. Because of her health problems she has not worked during the last five years. After submitting a claim for income support at the NII, she began presenting herself at the EB as required.

When a claimant comes to the EB for the first time, the Bureau is required to inquire about their health (among other things), in order to avoid referring them to unsuitable work. In Amal’s case, no such inquiry was made and she was sent to unsuitable work. Fearing the loss of the ISB, Amal agreed to take any job, and thus in 2014 she found herself in cleaning work despite her back problems. After two months her health deteriorated, which led to her dismissal.

Only after this did Amal tell the EB about her health situation and ask for a meeting with the committee to determine her work capabilities. Her situation was discussed only after she repeated her request again and again. But several months after the discussion, and even after WAC-MAAN had intervened, Amal had still not received the committee’s decision – a situation that continues today. It must be noted that as long as a decision has been reached but has not been made known to Amal, she is unable to appeal it, whereas protocol requires that the committee’s decisions be made known immediately and that the written version be made accessible, with the minutes of the meeting, within 10 days.

Recently Amal was referred to another cleaning job. This time too, despite her health problems, Amal went to the interview to try to get the job. At the employer’s office she waited more than an hour and a half, until finally she asked one of the employees when she would be seen, mentioning that she also had a doctor’s appointment. The employee took her documents, returned a short time later, and gave them back. On the form it was stated that she had refused the job, although she had not been interviewed. She contacted the interviewer and emphasized that she wanted the job, and asked for the interview to be held, but she was sent away. The EB registered a refusal to work. Though Amal explained that she had not refused, and related what had happened, the clerk registered the refusal without making any inquiries of the employer – inquiries which, according to both protocol and labor court rulings, the EB must make in case of refusal, particularly when the jobseeker’s version is at odds with the version written on the form. The EB clerk violated protocol again when he failed to fill out a follow-up form which reports on the interview with the employer (which in this case had not occurred), and again when he failed to give Amal a form enabling her to explain her (supposed) refusal. According to protocol, when a follow-up form is missing, the EB must delete the refusal to work, regardless of the appeals committee – this too was not done.

Amal then submitted an appeal to the EB Appeals Committee, but here too she encountered various protocol violations. Firstly, although Amal declared she was represented by WAC-MAAN, the Bureau sent a fax to the latter about the meeting just two hours in advance. Since the fax was seen at the WAC-MAAN office only after the meeting was already in progress, Amal was unrepresented. At the meeting the Bureau’s representative, Yaacov Beniashvili threatened Amal, prevented her from speaking, and did not permit her to present her claims; also, Amal’s mother tongue is Arabic, and she had no WAC-MAAN representative with her, which meant that Beniashvili was the only available translator. The chairperson was aware of the difficult circumstances. In his decision, he noted, “There may be a problem with the lack of translation to Arabic and from Arabic to Hebrew in this committee’s discussions, and with the fact that the committee used the translation of someone who is party to the dispute.” But for some reason the chairperson did not consider the problem serious enough to warrant canceling the refusal.

Not only did the committee decision ignore protocol, but it also ignored Amal’s claims. WAC-MAAN’s legal department has submitted an appeal at the labor court, protesting the procedures at the EB, including the referral to unsuitable work and the false registration of job refusal, as well as the behavior of the medical committee.

Unjustified withdrawal of income support by the NII following its refusal to enable documents to be submitted; NII’s failure to respond to representatives

Musa’s story

Musa gets the ISB and presents himself at the EB each week. At the end of 2014, he began working at a job they referred him to but was dismissed after just two months. In cases like this, if the jobseeker presents himself at the EB immediately after being dismissed, the NII must continue to pay his ISB. Thus Musa hurried to the EB, and he also submitted the wage slips for the period he was employed.

Nonetheless, the NII withdrew his ISB and told him he would have to submit a new claim because he had not shown up during the two months (the two months he was employed and thus was not required to present himself at the EB, and for which he had submitted wage slips proving he had worked). Musa contacted WAC-MAAN, and it submitted the same wage slips to the NII again, asking that the ISB be reinstated. Meanwhile, the NII gave no response.

At the same time, Musa asked to submit the wage slips again, by hand, at the NII, but the clerks refused to accept them.

WAC-MAAN again contacted the NII, which said it relies on the EB and that therefore the EB must correct the records in order that the ISB be reinstated. But it then became apparent that Musa’s records at the EB were in order: they show that he had presented himself as required and that there is no reason to withdraw his ISB. Although it is not the jobseeker’s responsibility to update the NII regarding the EB records, WAC-MAAN sent the records to the NII four times, by fax and email, but received no response from the NII. Eight months after the documents were first sent, WAC-MAAN representatives met with the NII branch director and discovered that not a single one of the documents had been added to Musa’s file. The director promised to deal with the problem immediately, but the meeting took place on June 29, 2015, and at the time of this report WAC-MAAN has still not received a reply despite further correspondence with the branch director.

Therefore, WAC-MAAN is submitting a claim at the labor court, demanding that Musa be paid the benefits that were unjustifiably withdrawn.

*This report was written as part of a joint project of WAC-MAAN and Ir Amim. This EU-funded project aims to assist the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem with infrastructure and the achievement of socioeconomic rights in the face of Israeli policy, emphasizing what happens in the neighborhoods outside the Separation Barrier.

1EU-LOGO-eng undp logo unison

 

 

 

 

Author: Erez Wagner, Director of WAC-MAAN’s branch in East Jerusalem

Legal editing: Att. Aya Bartenstein

Translators: Michael Sappir, Yonatan Preminger, Stephen Langfur

The responsibility for the content of this document lies with WAC-MAAN.

[1]The figures are from the 2015 Annual Statistical Handbook of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. They refer to 2013.

[2]“Fictitious job” is a term we have coined to describe either (1) an employer who notifies claimants referred to him that he does not need workers and did not ask the EB for any, or (2) an employer who systematically issues a statement that the claimant refused the job offer, despite the fact that the claimant was not accepted for the job (and sometimes was not even interviewed). For examples see Part II.

[3]According to the National Insurance Institute, the poverty line income in 2013 was 2,989 NIS per month for an individual and 4,783 NIS for a couple. For a family of five, poverty line income is 9,000 NIS per month.

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