Gideon Walters 224 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A British immigrant who moved to Ma'aleh Adumim from Jerusalem has been refused an increase in his state pension because his new home is beyond the borders of Israel according to a UK convention.
Gideon Walters, 75, made aliya from Britain in January 2005 to the capital's German Colony neighborhood. That April he received an increase of Â£4 a week from the UK Pension Service, part of the Department for Work and Pensions. He moved to Ma'aleh Adumim that September.
In February 2006, Walters received a letter telling him he was entitled in principle to a higher pension. However, after he filled out the enclosed questionnaire, he was told he was ineligible for the increase as he lived outside the territory of Israel as defined in July 1956.
The UK authorities have reciprocal social service agreements with a number of countries, including Israel. This allows expatriates to receive their state pensions if they reside in one of these countries. Article one of the convention signed between the UK and Israel in November 1957 states that "territory" in relation to Israel means its 1956 borders.
The article reads: "Under the definitions and scope of article one, for the purpose of the present convention, (1) 'territory' means in relation to the UK and in relation to Israel, the territory of Israel, which for the purpose of this convention shall mean the territory administered by the government of Israel on July 19, 1956."
Last March, Walters contacted the British Consulate General in Jerusalem for clarification and was told that "in relation to Ma'aleh Adumim, it is a city which was founded in 1976, therefore not covered under article one."
Walters twice appealed to the UK Pension Service. In July, the service informed him that he did not qualify for a pension increase since the area he lived in was not covered by a reciprocal agreement with Israel.
Walters wrote to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to express his dismay. The letter was forwarded to the Department for Work and Pensions, which replied that the agreement was a convention and a legally binding treaty, and that although it was amended in 1984 to "reflect certain changes," these did not include changes to the definitions of the territories covered.
"Any territories subsequently occupied and coming under Israeli administration after the convention's coming into force are therefore outside the scope and could only be included by further changes to the convention. The government has no plans at present to seek such a change," the Department for Work and Pensions wrote.
Walters questions the decision not to update the agreement and has vowed to pursue his case.
"It is absurd and illogical to use outdated directives which are not applicable now," he told The Jerusalem Post. "How can it still stand after 51 years? It is bureaucracy gone mad. I have yet to receive a reply to a letter I wrote to the UK Pension Service giving written and map evidence that Ma'aleh Adumim is the state land of Israel.
"The fight goes on: I shall not give up and will try further channels open to me," said Walters. "I shall pursue this, as I am entitled to any increases that are made to those who receive a UK state pension. It is important that there's a satisfactory outcome, as there will be others who will find themselves in the same predicament."
Walters, who was born in Berlin in 1932, fled to Guben in eastern Germany in 1935 as the Gestapo was looking to arrest his father. He fled Nazi Germany with his parents to the UK in October 1936.