Current data on recipients of unemployment benefits and income support can, to a certain extent, help explain why the city’s Arab labor force stopped increasing. According to National Insurance Institute data, the number of recipients of unemployment benefits among East Jerusalem Arabs rose steadily from 352 in 2008 to 1,501 in 2015 – an increase of 426% in seven years. The main increase took place during 2013-2015. In addition, the number of income support recipients from East Jerusalem also jumped, nearly doubling between 2011 and 2015, from 3,853 to 5,793 – about 700 more than the number of Jewish income support recipients in the city for the same year. These figures presumably reflect the large number of Arab workers who were excluded from the employment cycle in recent years. Their exclusion can probably be explained in terms of the economic crisis that befell Jerusalem’s private employment sector following the events of the Jerusalem intifada, as well as instances of dismissal or refusal to employ Arab workers in West Jerusalem during this period. At the same time, the increase in recipients of unemployment benefits and income support could also indicate an increase in awareness and capability within this population group when it comes to implementing their social rights. In other words, their economic integration and what has recently been termed their “Israelization” actually enable Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to claim their social rights under conditions of economic crisis or dismissal from work, which in turn result from an intensification of the national conflict in the city.
Translation: Merav Datan