At this time of the year, between the Pesach Holiday of Freedom and Yom Ha’atzmaut, between the memory of slavery in Egypt and that of the Shoah, it is also incumbent upon us to remember that human rights are a Jewish value shared by all sections of the political spectrum, and that preserving these rights is both our obligation and an interest that serves to strengthen Israeli sovereignty.
The ‘Blue and White Human Rights’ movement has maintained a presence at the crossing points in the Jerusalem area over recent years, supervising the general conduct at the crossings and providing medical aid to the Palestinians passing through them daily. The movement was founded by the Institute’s outgoing chairman, Dr.Yoaz Hendel.
A year ago, we decided to further expand our activity and after several brainstorming sessions, East Jerusalem was chosen as the location for a new project: the establishment of a human rights center for the local residents in Zur Baher and a Hebrew studies classroom for women from the neighborhood and surrounding area. Additional classrooms for Hebrew lessons were opened last month for the residents of Isawiya.
The program for the coming year was planned together with Dr. Ramadan Dabash, Chairman of the Zur Baher Community Council (and a candidate for the Jerusalem City Council at the last elections). Our activity in East Jerusalem and at the crossings is undertaken by Arabic-speaking students who each receive a scholarship.
We are very excited about this new project for several reasons. Firstly, because it expands on the existing activity which is based on the ‘Blue and White Human Right’s philosophy whereby striving for human rights and the enhancement of Palestinians’ quality of life are not endeavors exclusive to the left-wing of the political spectrum, and do not contradict a centrist or right-wing outlook that also regards activity in these fields as both legitimate and necessary.
Secondly, because we see how our work on the ground, as a small non-governmental organization, is generating huge change and reducing the alienation that the 300,000 residents of East Jerusalem feel towards the State of Israel, an achievement thus far unmatched by others.
Thirdly, because we believe that this is the embodiment of Zionism today: the concern for the human rights of the Palestinians living alongside us.
And finally, because sovereignty must be accompanied by responsibility. Although the discussion on the future status of Jerusalem has been on the table for many years, questions continue to be raised: will it be divided? Will it become an international city? If we wish to ensure that Jerusalem remain united, we must act as a sovereign concerned for the welfare of all the city’s residents and provide them due services and rights. This is precisely the reason that we have taken on the task to enhance the daily living conditions of the residents of East Jerusalem.
We welcome your thoughts and ideas in this field and would naturally be grateful for any support and cooperation in this important project.
Wishing you a pleasant and healthy spring,
From Oslo until Today: Human Rights Situation Report
This study conducted a broad survey of three human rights issues in Judea and Samaria: employment of Palestinians in Israel, treatment of Palestinian patients in Israeli hospitals, and the functioning of the crossing points. The study examined the Israeli policy for each of the three issues and the implementation of that policy since the Oslo Accords until today, 25 years after the agreements were signed. The main findings are presented below:
Employment of Palestinians in Israel
The general trend in Israeli policy since Oslo is one of increased employment and economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In the eyes of the Israeli government, as long as the security situation allows it, the economic cooperation expressed by an increase in the number of Palestinians employed in Israel leads to positive results, both from an economic and security perspective. Nevertheless, flaws were found in the manner of employment and in the protection of employees’ rights.
Since the Oslo Accords and until today, there has been a general trend of increased numbers of Palestinian employees in Israel, except for isolated exceptions, most of which occurred during sensitive periods from a security perspective. In 1996, the number of work permits stood at approximately 25,000, in 2011, this figure had risen to about 37,000, and by 2017 had reached 85,000.
Flaws were found in the current employment method which resulted in an infringement of the Palestinian workers’ rights to social benefits: improper employment contracts, a lack of provisions for retirement, and ineligibility for vacation and sick allowance.
In order to rectify the flaws, the government decided in 2016 on the implementation of a reform in the manner of Palestinian workers’ employment that included a placement program for Palestinian workers and the option of limited entry into Israel without the need for a request from an employer. A series of other steps aimed at guaranteeing the workers’ rights was also introduced.
Receipt of Medical Treatment in Israel
The area of medical treatment received by Palestinians in Israel has also been characterized by a trend of increased cooperation. This trend was due to diplomatic, security, economic, and moral reasons. At the same time, the congestion caused in certain departments because of treatment given to Palestinian patients, as well as the Palestinian Authority’s huge debt owed to Israeli hospitals, constitute a significant burden which requires immediate attention.
Permits given to Palestinians in order to receive medical treatment in Israel. The number of permits rose from 19,488 in 2003 to 93,770 in 2017.
The hospital departments with the highest number of Palestinian patients are the pediatric departments. A study conducted by the Knesset Research and Information Center found that 51% of all Palestinian hospitalization days were in departments designated for children.
The Palestinian Authority refrains from transferring full payment for the treatments and has accumulated a huge debt to Israeli hospitals. A study conducted by the Knesset Research and Information Center revealed that in 2017 the Palestinian Authority’s outstanding debt to hospitals in Israel stood at approximately 40.36 million shekels.
In the framework of our activities in East Jerusalem, we are glad to announce the opening of two new Hebrew classes for residents of the Isawyia neighborhood, closeby Mount Scopus. Isawyia is a particularly negected neighborhood, which has benefited little improvement in the last decade compared to other areas of the city. The strong demand for Hebrew courses shows the will to integrate exists. With or without a ”deal of the century” everyone understands Israel is here to stay.
This semester again we will publish an academic work dealing with a relevant social or political issue.
If you want to share your analysis and conclusions, or receive complementary information, please be in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following articles were published by members of the Institute and contain references to a wide range of issues on the public agenda:
Institute CEO Miri Shalem explains that in the post-election reality, with the Trump deal coming, right wingers will need more than the usual left-bashing to prove theselves as such. (Times of Israel)
IZS co-founder Israel Harel met a not-so-bitter kind of left, which prefers national unity over ideological feuds. (Haaretz)
Nicolas Nissim Touboul, projects manager at the Institute, analyzes the elections’ results in an Arab sector slowly but surely swinging towards the maintsream parties. (Mida)