Palestinian Files Complaint After 'Humiliated' Trying to Open Bank Account

The East Jerusalem man, an employee of the Justice Ministry's legal aid department, was told he could only open a bank account if he spoke Hebrew fluently.

An East Jerusalem Palestinian has filed a complaint against the Post Office over his humiliating experience when he tried to open a postal bank account. He said a clerk and the manager of the Jerusalem post office branch treated him contemptuously and humiliated him.

The Palestinian, an employee of the Justice Ministry's legal aid department, came to the central post office branch near his work place about two weeks ago to inquire about opening a joint bank account for himself and his wife.

A clerk told him he could only do so if he spoke Hebrew fluently. The man, who speaks Hebrew fluently, brought his pregnant wife, who is confined to bed rest, to the branch on Friday that week to open the account.

The clerk, Alon Cohen, said no bank accounts are opened on Friday and in any case, accounts are not opened for East Jerusalem residents.

The man "didn't want to raise a fuss, especially in view of his wife's medical condition, and left the post office ashamed and degraded," his attorney Limor Cohen of the legal aid department wrote in the complaint to the post office.

When he returned to the post office a few days later, the clerk again refused to open an account, giving the same reason. Asked for his name, the clerk allegedly said "...if you spoke like this in East Jerusalem, you'd be thrown down the stairs."

According to the complaint, the branch manager joined Cohen, raised his voice and said: "My name is Shlomo Hefetz. Go complain.: He then shook a key at the complainant and said angrily "not opening."

In response, the Israel Postal Company said: "Anyone may open a Postal Bank account, at any branch, anytime, regardless of religion, race and sex. The company provides services to all Israelis including from East Jerusalem. We deeply regret the worker's bad behavior...disciplinary action will be taken against him."

The company said it has forms in Arabic as well and apologized for the incident.