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!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • 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.