The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry has stopped making referrals to Israeli hospitals, accusing them of overcharging for services, according to the Times of Israel on Monday.
Palestinian ministry spokesman Osama al-Najjar told the news site that “we will no longer refer patients to Israeli hospitals because Israel has been overcharging us for medical services and taking funds for medical bills without our permission.”
The PA pays most medical bills of Palestinians it refers to Israeli hospitals to receive treatment that Palestinian hospitals cannot provide. In the past year, the PA sent about 50,000 Palestinians to Israeli hospitals, according to Najjar.
Najjar alleged that the Israeli Finance Ministry would not even discuss the problem with them.
In response, the Finance Ministry said: “In accordance with the Paris Protocol and Israeli law, the Finance Ministry deducts, from [tax] funds that are collected for the Palestinian Authority, payments that it or parties under its control owe. Charges, including those for Palestinians referred by the PA for treatment in hospitals in Israel, are carried out in a fully transparent manner and in accordance with clear procedures.”
The Paris Protocol is an annex to the Oslo Accords, agreements that Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed in the 1990s that define the economic relations of Israel and the PA.
Meanwhile, the PA has been seeking alternatives. While referrals to six Palestinian-operated hospitals in eastern Yerushalayim continue, they said that where necessary patients will be sent to medical facilities in Egypt, Jordan and other countries.
“We have alternatives to Israeli hospitals, and we will now take advantage of them,” Najjar said.