Reopening Post Office in East Jerusalem
In early January of 2019, residents of the Sur Baher neighborhood of East Jerusalem discovered that their local post office was closed. A handwritten sign was hung on the door, declaring that it would be closed indefinitely. The branch, which also has a division of the Postal Bank, serves the thousands of residents of the neighborhood and also provides services to the adjacent neighborhoods of Um Tuba and Um Lisun. According to information published in the media, residents learned that the branch was closed following the arrest of several of its employees on suspicion of embezzling Postal Bank customers' money. Beyond difficulty in receiving mail, the significance of the closure is that in order to carry out transactions — from paying bills and fines, to sending registered letters or parcels, to transferring ownership of a vehicle, and, in particular, to redeem National Insurance benefits deposited within the Postal Bank — residents, some of whom are elderly, were compelled to travel to a post office in another neighborhood. Upon appealing to the Ministry of Communications, ACRI was informed that the Israel Postal Company would not be able to operate the branch, since "the property is owned by the postal agent." We contacted the director general of the Postal Company, indicating that this answer was unacceptable, and demanding that the branch in Sur Baher be reopened. Attorney Tal Hassin of ACRI wrote that leaving the residents of the neighborhood without essential and accessible postal services is unacceptable, violates their right to dignity and equality, and contradicts the company's obligations by virtue of public law. A few days later, ACRI received a reply that the branch would reopen "within a few days," and it indeed reopened in a matter of days.