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

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...

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.

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About Erez Wagner