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13.6.2013

Following HaMoked's petition: improvement in the waiting conditions at the entrance to the population-administration bureau in East Jerusalem

On January 5, 2012, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to order the Ministry of Interior to find a solution for the intolerable congestion which daily confronts public-service seekers arriving at the population-administration bureau in Wadi Joz in East Jerusalem. The petition followed numerous letters, which HaMoked had sent over a period of more than four years, calling attention to the persistent harm to public-service seekers arriving at the population administration bureau. Despite HaMoked's letters, and although, in the correspondence with HaMoked, the interior ministry acknowledged both the congestion and its adverse effects, nothing was done to fix the situation.

In the petition, HaMoked argued that the waiting conditions at the population administration bureau – which provides public services to tens of thousands of East-Jerusalem residents – were intolerable and unacceptable and infringed on the waiting public's rights to dignity and equality: the waiting line at the entrance to the bureau was hazardously long; forcing many to stand outside in all weather; due to the congestion, people tend to crowd dangerously into the remote-controlled turnstiles; on top of that, the security guards stationed there treat the waiting public in a rough and disrespectful manner, which does not conform to the basic standards of public-service in a governmental office.

HaMoked also stressed that a large part of the congestion stemmed from the fact that the Israeli employment-service operates a bureau in the same in the same building, so that the service-seekers of both bureaus have to stand together in line. HaMoked therefore suggested that the two bureaus be located in separate premises or alternatively, that the automated-attendance machines of the employment service be taken outside the building, so that most of the employment-service public would have no need to join the waiting line at the entrance. HaMoked also demanded that restrooms, drinking fountains and benches be installed in the waiting area.

Following a hearing in the petition, the state representative announced that the attendance machines would be removed as suggested, and it was estimated that consequentially over 50% of the employment-service public would not need to enter the building. With regards to remedy of basic facilities in the waiting area, the state announced it was impossible due to limitations of space, and added that, in any event, soon the facilities would turn redundant, given the planned measures for reducing the waiting line.

After the attendance machines were removed from the building, HaMoked examined the situation at the entrance to the population-administration bureau, and noted a clear improvement in the number of people waiting in line each day. However, the time spent waiting in line was marginally shorter, and remained relatively protracted. Consequently, HaMoked notified the court that it cannot forgo the other remedy sought in the petition – the installation of basic facilities in the waiting-area.On June 10, 2013, the court ruled that the petition clearly achieved its objective, albeit imperfectly, and erased the petition, while ordering the respondents to pay trial costs of ILS 7,500. The justices noted in the judgment that the petitioners' arguments are reserved for them, and they may re-petition "if it turns out that the situation has not improved sufficiently or if the conditions in the place have deteriorated."
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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