Court orders Comm. Ministry to address e. J’lem mail proble

Communications Ministry, J'lem Municipality,Israel Postal Company must form c'tee to resolve lack of efficient postal services in area, High Court instructs.

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday instructed the Israel Postal Company, the Communications Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality to form a joint working group to deal with the lack of efficient postal services in east Jerusalem, and to report back on their progress within four months.
The erratic distribution of mail in the eastern part of the city has caused numerous problems for residents. Bills frequently go missing and result in households being levied with fines and interest payments for unpaid debts.
Residents also fail to receive court orders, benefit payments, letters from family members and other important documents.
“There is no dispute that the petition raised a problem that requires a solution, that of improving the postal services provided to residents of the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem..., and the solutions must be found as soon as possible,” Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Esther Hayut and Uzi Vogelman wrote in their decision.
The court instructed the parties to establish the working group within two weeks and to allow representatives of the petitioners to provide their input to the working group and to maintain regular contact with it.
The court also noted that the municipality had taken upon itself to name all streets in east Jerusalem by the end of 2012, and to provide street numbers to all buildings by the end of 2013.
Hundreds of streets in east Jerusalem have no names or street numbers, and there is a relative dearth of post office branches. There are only nine branches in east Jerusalem but, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, 42 branches in the western part of the capital.
Mail is often left in local convenience stores because of the difficulty in finding addressees.
In June 2010, ACRI filed a petition with the High Court on behalf of east Jerusalem residents in several neighborhoods asking for an injunction to be served against the Israel Postal Company, the Communications Ministry – which has oversight over the Postal Company, and the municipality, to force them to deal with the problem.
Merav Lapidot, a spokeswoman for the Israel Postal Company, said in response to the court decision that it was very happy to participate in the group to solve the problems, but that without street names and numbers it is impossible and unreasonable to expect mail to be delivered efficiently.
Regarding the lack of post office branches in east Jerusalem, Lapidot said that the use of postal services in the area is lower per head than in other parts of the city and therefore fewer branches are required.
Ronit Sela of ACRI said that such a response was an evasion of responsibility. “I can’t comment on the relative demand for services in the different parts of the city, but east Jerusalem residents have unreasonable distances to travel to get to a post office branch and frequently wait an hour or more to be dealt with,” she said.
Sela also claimed that certain neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, such as Sheikh Jarrah and Beit Safafa, do have street names and numbers and still receive mail less frequently then Jewish neighborhoods.
“Although an injunction would have been of even greater help in dealing with the problem, we’re pleased that the High Court has called for a concrete timetable to deal with the issue,” she said.
During the court hearing, attorney Dan Livman representing the municipality argued that the naming and numbering of streets was progressing quicker than indicated by the petitioners, but conceded that it was indeed the responsibility of the municipality to name and number the streets. He added that the municipality was happy to join the working group to solve the problems.