A new report by the WAC-MAAN Trade Union reveals that the East Jerusalem branches of the National Insurance Institute (NII = Bituach Leumi) and the Employment Bureau (EB) behave contrary to protocol in all that pertains to receiving claims, documents, and job requests. The two have erected an apparatus for denying benefits to the Palestinian claimants of East Jerusalem, the most poverty stricken sector in Israel.
After 48 years of occupation, the Palestinians of East Jerusalem (EJ) face a humanitarian catastrophe. They number 307,600, of whom 229,300 live below the national poverty line. That is 76% of EJ residents (including 83.9% of the children). Moreover, their average income is 41.4% lower than the poverty line! This situation of deprivation and despair has contributed to the waves of violence that are sweeping over Jerusalem.
According to the WAC-MAAN report, issued today in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, the EJ poor make up 13% of Israel’s poor, but they get only 2.7% of the NII’s income-security payments. In effect, they are deprived of a minimal economic safety net.
Each year the EJ branch of WAC-MAAN handles about 200 cases vis-à-vis the EB and NII, in addition to counseling hundreds more. The complaints and the files present an ugly picture, showing that the EB and NII practice unique discriminatory procedures against Palestinians. These procedures cause eligible people to fail in presenting claims at the NII, while the procedures of the EB amount to a war of attrition against those who most need an economic safety net.
For example, in a great many cases the NII acts contrary to its own protocol when it does not allow people to submit claims if the claimant does not from the start attach the full stack of required documents. This contravenes the procedures in branches in Israel. Furthermore, the EB clerks in EJ—contrary to other branches’ practices—refuse to register jobseekers, especially women, unless they present an official, stamped confirmation from the NII saying that a claim has been made. Furthermore, when the clerks finally allow the claimants to report at the EB, the latter are often sent to jobs unsuitable to their health—even to jobs that aggravate illnesses, as well as fictitious jobs.
By such means, says the WAC-MAAN report, 69% of the claims for income-security benefits in EJ are denied, the vast majority on the pretext that the claimants had failed to produce full documentation and had failed to report to the EB.
The payment of income-security benefits to the people of EJ, and the spreading of an effective economic safety net, are Israel’s obligation, because it annexed them. The obligation is rooted in Israeli law.
In hope of remedy, we present this report to those who are responsible for the policies and activities of the EB and NII in East Jerusalem.
We attach the report, which includes data and examples from the field.
For additional details please call Erez Wagner, Coordinator of the WAC-MAAN branch in East Jerusalem: 050-7596492.