Palestinians Living in East Jerusalem: A Healthcare Lens

Conflict and Coexistence in Jerusalem

By Tara Mohseni

When I asked a Palestinian living in East Jerusalem what he feels is different between him and a Israeli Jew, he told me, “I am resident of this land, however, my friends are citizens.” This struck me because are they not both living in Jerusalem? When one is looking at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the relations that exist, one must draw connections not only between the entire state of Israel and the entire state of Palestine, but also between the shared land and space that exists in Jerusalem.

The Times of Israel

If looking directly at East Jerusalem, there are 435,753 Palestinians and about 69.2% of them live below the poverty line (Iman and Hamdan 2021). Furthermore, Palestinians living in East Jerusalem live a similar lifestyle to everyone else in the country, however, this comes with one difference. According to Adi Granot, because of the annexation of East Jerusalem, Palestinians have residency status, but not citizenship (Granot et al. 2021). In other words, they are able to reap the same benefits as a regular citizen such as working and being entitled to health insurance except they do not have the the ability to vote nor do they hold an Israeli passport.

The Times of Israel


My research: How does healthcare in East Jerusalem affect the standard of living among the Palestinian population. My motivation for this research is to read, listen, and look into not only the discrepancy but also analyze and examine the inherent inequality that affects a Palestinian living in East Jerusalem’s everyday life. As the Israeli government begins to recognize Palestinians as part of the community, then there will be more deliberate work to integrate them more into the healthcare system.

Key Points from my interview with a Palestinian living in East Jerusalem:

Background: “As a resident in East Jerusalem, I have the same healthcare procedure as Israelis, we are able to attend the same hospitals, clinics, etc. However, there is one major difference. This is that there are no hospitals in East Jerusalem, there is a transport barrier present because of the lack of buses that will take you directly there. In addition, a language barrier is extremely prominent as Hebrew is the only language spoken. This means that the phone service is in Hebrew which means that in order to make appointments, the patient must be able to speak in Hebrew. This itself causes a problem because then there is a lack of understanding of what the patient wants or is struggling with.”

The structure of healthcare clinics- public vs. private: “The Health Ministry pays the owner of the clinic per person they bring in and who is registered. It becomes a business in the end because of it being half privatized. The Health Ministry does not want to do it themselves because of the logistics so the person who takes on the role of leadership takes the load off of the state and in exchange gets money. The conditions of privatized clinics are good when they open in theory. The basic standards are met in the first few weeks because of the need to pass different checks, however, over time this need to meet the standards diminishes. This is because of the need to cut expenses and maximize profits at these outsourced clinics. This, therefore, comes at the expense of Palestinians.”

Policy recommendations:

  • Implement a system where there is an inclusion of both people -> Arabic and Hebrew options for calling as well as physically being in the clinic
  • Open more clinics in East Jerusalem through Health Ministry rather than outsourcing them which leads to lower quality service

More information:

Study of East Jerusalem Healthcare Sector

Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan