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Cablegate: Palestinian Access to East Jerusalem Hospitals

VZCZCXRO6617
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #2090 3261223
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 211223Z NOV 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3308
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS JERUSALEM 002090

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE; NEA/IPA FOR
GOLDBERGER/HOLMSTROM/LENTZ; PRM FOR PRM/ANE; NSC FOR
PASCUAL; PLEASE PASS TO USAID FOR KUNDER/MCCLOUD/BORODIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PREL PHUM KWBG IS
SUBJECT: PALESTINIAN ACCESS TO EAST JERUSALEM HOSPITALS
RESTRICTED BY GOI

1. (SBU) Summary: A new GOI access restriction for
Palestinian hospital staff has severely disrupted the
operations of the six Palestinian East Jerusalem hospitals,
according to Hospital Network Coordinator Tawfiq Nasser. He
said that patients and staff are now restricted to two
specific checkpoints, resulting in daily travel delays of
90-120 minutes. Palestinian employees of Israeli hospitals
in Jerusalem are not subject to this rule and use other, more
efficient checkpoints. The GOI is scheduled to meet
internally about this issue on November 30, according to
Nasser, who underscored the magnitude of the problem: "We
cannot go on like this." PA Ministry of Health officials
expressed to Econoff their concern over this issue. End
summary.

Patients and staff directed to crowded checkpoints
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. (SBU) Tawfiq Nasser, CEO of Augusta Victoria Hospital in
East Jerusalem, told Econoff on November 19 that a new GOI
policy implemented in early October requires patients and
employees of Palestinian East Jerusalem hospitals to enter
Jerusalem from the north only via the Qualandia and Olive
checkpoints. The Qualandia and Olive checkpoints are crowded
and not convenient for all travelers. Nasser said that GOI
contacts had noted in July possible changes to Israeli
policies for commuting Palestinians entering Jerusalem, but
no new regulation was specified. PA Ministry of Health
officials told Econoff on November 16 that the new
restrictions have greatly limited hospital services.

3. (SBU) Nasser said that individuals had previously been
allowed to use less crowded, "easier" checkpoints, including
Hizma. Palestinians working for NGOs, the UN, and consulates
can still use these "easier" checkpoints, as well as those
working at Israeli hospitals in Jerusalem.

Daily delays greatly hinder hospital services
---------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Nasser said that, as a result of this change,
hospital services have been greatly restricted in recent
weeks, given the unpredictable arrivals of patients,
physicians, nurses, and technicians. Prior to this change,
employees had commutes of 30-45 minutes from Ramallah. Those
travel times are now 90-120 minutes each day. Nasser told
Econoff that 75 percent of his West Bank staff are directly
affected by these new restrictions. He underscored that
hospital services and operations are being delayed and
canceled due to late arrivals: "We cannot go on like this,"
he said.

Israeli officials to meet November 30;
Blair Team has raised with GOI
---------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Nasser has written to numerous officials in the PA
and GOI to request assistance. He said that Israeli Ministry
of Health, police, and COGAT officials planned to meet on the
issue on November 30. Members of the Blair Team told Econoff
that they have raised this matter with the GOI in recent
weeks.
WALLES

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