An individual must be an "Israeli resident" to receive social benefits and health insurance from the National Insurance Institute. The NII holds the position that, unless proven otherwise, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are not residents, and that they in effect seek to take improper advantage of the state and benefit from its services without being lawfully entitled to them. The NII harbors particular suspicion against East Jerusalem residents who are married to non-resident Palestinians, and in almost every instance where such a resident submits a request for an allotment or for heath insurance, the NII investigates to verify that the applicant actually resides in Jerusalem. The investigation is made even if the question of residency was investigated a few months earlier and it was found that the applicant is indeed entitled to benefits.
The NII's basic assumption is false. According to figures that the NII provided to B'Tselem, the great majority (70 percent) of investigated claims is approved. The high percentage of approvals belies NII suspicions against residents of East Jerusalem and questions its policy of conducting an investigation in every case. Since most of the claims are approved and the claimant is considered a resident of Israel retroactively, in those cases at least, the claimant was illegally denied his or her rights.
The NII investigations breach principles of proper administration and grossly violate the rights of the residents. The investigations are superficial, deny the individual's right to due process and privacy, and are motivated by pre-conceived notions of behavior in Palestinian society. The investigation takes months, during which the claimant does not receive the applied-for allotment or health insurance.
The NII also investigates eligibility for health insurance although the law does not authorize it to make these investigations. Here, too, the investigation can take many months, during which the applicant is not insured. Since the claim for health insurance is granted in most cases, during the prolonged period of investigation these claimants are denied their entitlement to health insurance. Denial of health insurance to a resident of Israel violates the law. The NII also conducts these investigations where the individual is already insured but wants to register his or her minor children in a Health Fund. According to law, where the parents are recognized as residents, their children are also recognized as residents. The additional investigation in these cases leads to children remaining without health insurance until completion of the investigation. Physicians for Human Rights estimate that there are currently some 10,000 children residing in East Jerusalem who are not covered by medical insurance.
In implementing this policy, the NII assists Israel in attaining its goal of reducing the number of Palestinians living in Jerusalem. Thus, the NII, instead of promoting a social policy and providing health insurance, has become a tool to advance illegitimate political objectives.