Two of the biggest hospitals in East Jerusalem have reported that they will be unable to continue treating patients if the Palestinian Authority does not pay them the money it owes them.
The al-Maqased and Augusta Victoria hospitals, both located on the Mount of Olives, primarily treat Palestinian patients from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. In a joint statement released Monday they said that the PA had racked up NIS 240 million ($62.5 million) in unpaid bills, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.
The two hospitals said that they will be forced to start postponing surgeries from Tuesday unless they receive the outstanding money, which they need in order to purchase equipment and medicine.
The hospitals treat tens of thousands of patients annually as well as training doctors and medical personnel and housing medical research facilities.
Staff from the hospitals called off a demonstration planned for Monday night outside the Palestinian finance ministry when the management said it had received “positive signs” from the ministry. In addition, hospital administrators stressed that they did not wish to interfere with the Fatah conference starting Tuesday.
Al-Maqased Hospital operates as a charity, while Augusta Victoria is financed by the Lutheran World Federation and UNRWA. A large part of their budgets come from the Palestinian National Authority’s health insurance plan, which refers patients to the hospitals and reimburses the costs.
The hospitals said they were willing to accept payment from the PA in installments.
The PA received almost NIS four billion ($1.04 billion) in international aid in 2016, and 12 percent of its annual budget was allocated to the health ministry.