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

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...

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.

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About Erez Wagner