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Israel Rejects Arab Charges That Closing of Hospice Hospital in Old City Was Political Decision

Israel rejected today Arab charges that the closure of the Hospice Hospital in the Old City of Jerusalem was the result of a political decision. Instead, Israel said “the Ministry of Health decided for purely medical reasons that the hospital in the Hospice building should be closed.”

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, said in a letter to Secretary General Javier Peres de Cuellar, that the decision to close the hospital was influenced by two major facts: the medical equipment in the hospital were out-of-date “resulting in inadequate medical care” and the structure of the building did not allow room for a suitable elevator. “Recently two women died in the maternity ward (of the hospital) because of poor medical treatment, ” the Israeli envoy pointed out.

Netanyahu added: “The decision to close the Hospice hospital is in line with the policy of the Ministry of Health of closing small hospitals and hospitals with one category of patient (such as women) anywhere in the country.” He said that other hospitals in Jerusalem will also be shut down.

Last week, Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Taher Masri, sent a telegram to de Cuellar demanding action to stop Israel from closing the hospital. He accused Israel of letting the hospital deteriorate and deliberately withholding funds for its development.

RESIDENTS TO GET MEDICAL CARE ELSEWHERE

Netanyahu said in his letter that residents of the Old City who received medical care at the Hospice hospital “will now receive medical care at the Sheikh Jarrah Health Center and at Jerusalem’s other hospitals, with health insurance arranged by the Ministry of Health. A first-aid station will continue to operate at the Hospice building and the doctors and qualified staff of the Hospice will be offered alternate employment.”

Continuing, the Israeli Ambassador asserted, “Recent assertions that the closure of the Hospice will deprive the residents of the Old City of proper medical care are therefore totally unfounded. In fact, the number of mother-and-child health care stations in the Arab section of Jerusalem and in villages within the city limits has been steadily rising in recent years.

“Wide ranging medical supervision has also been instituted in Arab schools. Municipal assistance has been extended to Red Crescent stations in the city. These services, along with health insurance and hospitalization, enable Arab residents of Jerusalem to receive medical care on a par with that of the rest of Israel.”

Netanyahu requested his letter be circulated as an official document of the General Assembly.

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