Mahmoud Abbas reads a newspaper in a hospital in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Palestinian Authority has announced it will stop providing its citizens with medical treatment in Israel, according to a report published by the Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.
“This decision was made in response to the deduction of sums [Israel transfers] from the taxes that [Israel] collects each month for the Palestinian coffers,” said PA Ministry of Health Spokesman Osama Al-Najjar in an article in the Palestinian daily, which was translated and disseminated by Palestinian Media Watch.
The cessation of services went into effect on March 26.
More than 20,000 permits were granted to Palestinians living in the West Bank to enter Israel and receive treatment or support a patient who was receiving treatment in the Jewish state, according to numbers released to The Jerusalem Post by the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT) in an interview earlier this year. That number was up by nearly 3,000 from the year before.
“The decision is political par excellence, and comes in response to Israel deducting sums from the money that it collects for us,” Al-Najjar continued.
In February 2019, Israel implemented the “Pay-for-Slay” Law
that instructs the state to deduct and freeze the amount of money the PA pays in salaries to imprisoned terrorists and families of “martyrs” from the tax money it collects for the PA. The law was passed in July 2018 and approved for implementation by Israel’s security cabinet this year. In 2019, the cabinet is withholding approximately $138 million. According to Al-Najjar, the cost of the referrals to the Israeli hospitals is $100 million a year.
In the Palestinian report, Al-Najjar emphasized that the PA Ministry of Health will be committed to find alternatives for the sick in the state hospitals and in private hospitals and calmed that the Palestinian people’s health services will not be affected.
“The ministry is committed to providing the necessary treatment to all who need it,” he said.
Medical coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been ongoing since 1995 and continues to increase each year, despite ebbs and flows on the security and diplomatic fronts. Until now, according to a COGAT representative who asked to remain anonymous, there was an understanding that “treatment must go on” even in times of high tension, including during each of the two intifadas and the more recent uptick of violence in the West Bank.
The medical program was always first about health, said program coordinators, but also about cooperation.
COGAT representatives said they would not comment on this recent report.
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