East Jerusalem Hospitals Face Cash Crisis

Aid-Dependent Palestinian Authority Skips Payments

By Reuters

Published November 06, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Six hospitals in East Jerusalem face a financial crisis because the aid-dependent Palestinian Authority has been unable to meet payments for their services, jeopardizing the healthcare of thousands of West Bank patients.

The Western-backed PA, which exercises limited self-rule in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has built up debts of $18 million to the specialised healthcare centres this year.

Economic anxiety is rising following U.S. sanctions and a shortfall of aid from rich Gulf states last year. The World Bank forecasts a $1.5 billion deficit in the 2012 PA budget.

Washington withheld $192 million after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would press on with a drive for observer status at the United Nations, defying U.S. policy which insists only a peace treaty with Israel can lead to a Palestinian state.

In September, public sector salary delays and fuel price hikes provoked violent street demonstrations in the West Bank.

“The moment the PA faces any financial difficulty, it stops paying. But the hospital must still take in patients,” Tawfiq Nasser, head of the Augusta Victoria Hospital, told Reuters.

“We can no longer offer the same services and that is putting patients at risk, endangering their lives.”

The East Jerusalem hospitals signed agreements with the PA in 1997 to admit patients from the West Bank and Gaza according to specialist referral. Costs were to be paid every month.

Ten months ago, the money stopped but patients kept coming.

CAN’T PAY FOR MEDICATION

The World Health Organisation says about 22,000 patients from the West Bank and Gaza were referred to East Jerusalem hospitals in 2011 - more than half of their total intake.

The hospitals say they have gone on supplying chemotherapy, neurosurgery and dialysis, amassing large debts of their own to drug suppliers, and are struggling to pay staff salaries.

Nasser says the PA owes his hospital alone over $11 million, as it offers costly treatments not easily available in government-run hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The ministry of health says it is struggling to secure at least some of the money owed to the hospitals.

“Referrals to East Jerusalem are increasing and we rely almost exclusively on these facilities for the rare specialisations they offer,” Health Minister Hani Abdeen told Reuters from his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Palestinians want their own state in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel, which occupied the territories after the 1967 Middle East war, considers Jerusalem to be its eternal and indivisible capital.

Israel prohibits Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza from freely entering Jerusalem. It issues permits to people with hospital referrals needing medical treatment, some of whom are treated in Israeli hospitals.

The roughly 300,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are mostly covered by the Israeli healthcare system and do not receive treatment in any of the six cash-strapped hospitals.

The Augusta Victoria Hospital says about 84 percent of its income comes from the PA. It owes $5 million to private suppliers and will soon be unable to pay salaries.

“We can’t blame drug suppliers if next month they say: sorry, we can no longer supply drugs without payment,” Nasser said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.