Umm Kulthum, ACRI, and the Postal Service in East Jerusalem

CC-by-NC-SA: Yoav Lerman

Last week, it was published that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat dedicated Umm Kulthum Street in the Beit Hanina neighborhood in East Jerusalem – “marking the first year of naming streets in east Jerusalem since 1967.” Surprisingly, one of the reasons for this welcome change is a petition filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) demanding adequate postal services in East Jerusalem (see more on this petition below). In response to this petition, the Israel Post stated that without street names, it cannot deliver mail.
It is estimated that 1,000 streets in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem do not have official names. This phenomenon of nameless streets is part of the general planning failure in East Jerusalem, and it impacts the residents’ daily lives, for example when emergency services are called and a precise address cannot be provided.
In September 2012, the Jerusalem Municipality announced it would start assigning names to streets in East Jerusalem. According to the municipality, by October 2012 it has given official names to 145 streets in Zur Baher, Beit Hanina, Shuafat, Issawiya, Abu Tur, Silwan, and Ras al-Amud. The municipality stated that it would name streets and provide house numbers across East Jerusalem, regardless of the legal status of the homes there.


ACRI Petition to Provide Adequate Postal Service in East Jerusalem
The postal services provided in East Jerusalem have been severely lacking for decades. Though one of every three Jerusalem residents is Palestinian, there are only 9 post offices in East Jerusalem, compared to 42 offices in West Jerusalem. Delivery of mail to homes is infrequent and severely delayed in some areas and non-existent in other areas.
The poor state of postal services in East Jerusalem has severe legal implications and causes great harm and frustration to the residents. Official documents and bills sent in the mail, for example from the tax authority and the courts, often reach their destinations after serious delay and at times never arrive at the correct address. In some neighborhoods mail items are left exposed in public spaces such as kiosks and mosques in ways that violate privacy. Many residents who need to go to the Post Office are required to go to West Jerusalem or to the few areas in East Jerusalem where such services are provided, often in overcrowded conditions.
Following extensive lobbying attempts to improve the postal services, which led to little improvement on the ground, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) petitioned the High Court of Justice. The petition, HCJ 4144/10, was submitted in June 2010 on behalf of Palestinian representatives from East Jerusalem against the Ministry of Communications, Israel Post (formerly the Israel Postal Authority), and the Jerusalem Municipality.
As a consequence of the petition, a special committee was convened by the different authorities to consider solutions to the problem. Since the petition was filed, three mail distribution centers have been set up: In Silwan (1,600 post boxes), in Issawiya (825 post boxes), and in Jabal Mukabar (1,200 post boxes). These centers do not, however, provide any services other than personal post office boxes.
To read the petition (in Hebrew):

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Categories: East Jerusalem, Planning and Building Rights, Provision of Services, The Right to Equality

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