The High Court of Justice on Thursday criticized the poor provision of postal services in Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem, telling authorities that the process of improving these services “needs to be accelerated.”
The court hearing came in response to a petition submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Palestinian representatives in June 2010 demanding an improvement in mail distribution services in Arab neighborhoods.
According to ACRI, delivery of mail to homes in east Jerusalem is infrequent and severely delayed in some areas, and completely non-existent in others, with only nine post offices in east Jerusalem, compared to more than forty in west Jerusalem.
Mail service is difficult in these areas because of the lack of street names or numbers. Mail is delivered haphazardly to area stores, and residents often miss important notices or court summons, racking up additional late fees because they do not receive the bills, according to ACRI. The NGO states that in some neighborhoods, mail items are left exposed in public spaces such as kiosks and mosques.
On November 9 of last year, the High Court ordered the city to create an inter-office committee consisting of representatives from the Communications Ministry, the municipality of Jerusalem, and the post office. The committee’s first step was to build post-office box distribution centers.
However, the High Court has decreed, the process is not fast enough. ACRI agrees, with Keren Tzafrir, the head lawyer on the case, saying the improvements thus far were miniscule with "little progress and almost nothing on the ground."
In order to improve the service, the Jerusalem Municipality on Thursday pledged that by the end of 2014 all nameless streets in east Jerusalem will be named, and houses will be given numbers to enable delivery of mail directly to people’s homes.
According to ACRI, the wide-spread phenomenon of nameless streets is part of a "general planning failure" by the authorities that "severely impacts residents’ daily lives and the services afforded to them."
The judges gave the three authorities; the Postal Company, the Communications Ministry and the Jerusalem municipality four months to work out an improvement plan.
Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.
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