Despite constant threats and occasional outbreaks of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, Israeli hospitals had always served as a bastion of coexistence where Jewish and Arab doctors work together on Jewish and Arab patients without discrimination, even Palestinians.
But no longer. The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry will stop referring Palestinians patients who need advanced medical care to Israeli hospitals.
“We will no longer refer patients to Israeli hospitals because Israel has been overcharging us for medical services and taking funds for medical bills without our permission,” PA Health Ministry spokesman Osama al-Najjar accused.
Traditionally patients have been referred to Israel when Palestinian hospitals do not have the resources to help them. Last year some 50,000 Palestinians were referred to Israeli hospitals, Najjar said. He accused the Israeli Finance Ministry of deducting the medical bills from taxes it collects every month from the PA – a total of $100 million in the past year.
“We cannot allow Israel to take our money against our will,” he said.
Israel’s Finance Ministry said it is operating in accordance “with the Paris Protocol and Israeli law.”
“Charges, including those for Palestinians referred by the PA for treatment in hospitals in Israel, are carried out in a fully transparent manner and in accordance with clear procedures,” the ministry said.
Najjar said that the PA will instead refer patients to hospitals in East Jerusalem, Jordan, Egypt or other countries.
“We have alternatives to Israeli hospitals, and we will now take advantage of them,” he said.