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PA considering nationalizing the health servies, stopping referrals to Israeli hospitals due to financial crisis over terror salaries

Headline: “Al-Ramlawi: The [PA] Ministry of Health views it as the highest importance that every sick person receive all the treatment they deserve – will the sick be affected by the decision to stop the referrals to the Israeli hospitals?”

“The [PA] Ministry of Health’s decision to stop the referrals to the Israeli hospitals has aroused wonder among the civilians regarding the alternate hospitals to which the sick will be referred if their treatment becomes impossible at the Palestinian hospitals – whether state or private [hospitals], or at the [East] Jerusalem hospitals.

[PA] Ministry of Health Spokesman Osama Al-Najjar indicated that the decision came in the context of the Palestinian leadership’s decisions to limit the contact with Israel given the theft of the Palestinian tax money (refers to Anti “Pay-for-Slay” Law to deduct terrorist salaries; see note below –Ed.), while explaining that the currently sick people who have already received medical referrals to the Israeli hospitals will continue to receive their treatment until it is completed, and will not be impacted by the decision.

According to the Ministry of Health’s statistics, the bill for the referrals to the Israeli hospitals is approximately $100 million per year.

The Ministry of Health has been working in recent years to nationalize the medical services and reduce the external referrals to a minimum, including referrals to the Israeli hospitals.

On this topic, Deputy [PA] Minister of Health As’ad Al-Ramlawi said… that the ministry, in the framework of a strategic national plan… is investing the greatest efforts to nationalize the health services and reduce the referrals to a minimum.

He noted that the ministry is receiving support from [PA] President [Mahmoud] Abbas and the [PA] government to seriously advance the plan to nationalize the [health] services, and a number of mechanisms and goals have been defined, including strengthening the infrastructure of the state hospitals and attracting Palestinian medical staff members both from the 1948 lands (i.e., Israel) and from among the expatriate Palestinian doctors.

On this matter, Al-Ramlawi said that over 25% of the doctors who work in Israeli hospitals are Palestinian, and a number of them have been attracted to work in our hospitals. He noted that the government has allowed arranging special contracts with these staff members…

Al-Ramlawi… indicated that nationalizing the services is not limited solely to the state hospitals… but rather includes the private hospitals and [East] Jerusalem hospitals… and added: ‘As part of nationalizing the services, we can cover more than 95% of the cases, and for the remaining portion we will find an alternative in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, India, and any other state – and every sick person will receive the treatment they deserve.’

He continued: ‘We have signed an agreement recently with Turkey to carry out referrals for liver transplants, and with India to carry out referrals for heart and lung transplants, and there are excellent alternatives to the Israeli hospitals.’

He noted that most of our people in the Gaza Strip cannot obtain permits from the occupation authorities to go to Jerusalem or the West Bank to receive treatment, and explained that the Ministry of Health has signed an agreement with Egyptian hospitals so that the sick will be referred to them from the Gaza Strip to receive treatment…

Regarding the sum that will be saved by stopping the referrals to the Israeli hospitals, the deputy minister of health confirmed that it will contribute to creating health and financial prosperity, and empowerment and strengthening of the Palestinian state and non-state hospitals…

He concluded by saying: ‘There is no option other than nationalizing the health services and relying on ourselves, particularly in the current situation in which we are living, and every sick person who cannot be treated in our hospitals – we will work to refer them abroad, whether to Jordan or to another state in the world.’”

Israel's Anti "Pay-for-Slay" Law - Israeli law stating that the PA payments to terrorists and the families of dead terrorists is a financial incentive to terror. The law 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 Israel collects for the PA. Should the PA stop these payments for a full year, the Israeli government would have the option of giving all or part of the frozen money to the PA. The law was enacted by the Israeli Parliament on July 2, 2018. During the parliamentary vote, the law's sponsor Avi Dichter said: “The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee received much help in its deliberations... from Palestinian Media Watch who provided us with authentic data that enabled productive and professional deliberations, nuances that are very difficult to achieve without precise data.” [Israeli Parliament website, July 2, 2018] In accordance with the law, as of September 2021 Israel’s Security Cabinet had ordered the freeze of 1.857 billion shekels ($580.15 million) - the sum equivalent to the PA payments to terrorists in 2018, 2019, and 2020.