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Public Retirement in Palestine: Reality and Horizons

At first, Al-Helow elaborated on the significance of public retirement. Most decisions issued by the High Court of Justice pertain to public retirement.
Examination and analysis of current retirement laws in symposiums is the best way towards drafting a consolidated law on public retirement. Such a law should be applicable to all categories of retirees as well as void of defective drafting and enforcement.
Al-Helow stated that various laws and regulations are applicable to retirement due to the special nature of the legal status in Palestine as well as successive historical periods of rule over Palestine. A total of eight Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian items of legislation on retirement are in force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. As such, legislation on public retirement is crucially requires reform so as to safeguard rights of retirees.
In this context, Al Helow asserted that the process of developing of a consolidated law on retirement that covers all public servants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has commenced in 1998. However, this process failed because the percentage of retirement subscriptions was raised from 8% to 10% of the salary.
The Jordanian Law No. 34 of 1959 Concerning Civil Retirement remained in force. According to this law, however, deductions are transferred directly to the State Treasury, not to a separate retirement fund. With reference to actuary studies conducted by several experts, relevant authorities may be incapable of paying due salaries to retired functionaries 15 years later. To avoid this problem, the Palestinian Law of Public Retirement No. 7 of 2005 was promulgated. The speaker made clear that the latter Law aims to safeguard a decent living standard to retirees as well as establish a retirement fund. Moreover, provisions under the Law cover functionaries at the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).
Nevertheless, several obstacles prevent the smooth implementation of the Palestinian Law, including insufficient budget to pay due entitlements of PLO functionaries. Furthermore, the Law adopts the age category of functionaries, rather than the functional category.
Despite difficulties associated with enforcement, the Palestinian Law on Public Retirement represents a remarkable transition in the field of Palestinian legislation. Each functionary, who was less than 45 years of age on 28 May 2005, is subject to this Law. Following 15 years, the Law will be applicable to all retirees, thereby enforcing a consolidated retirement law to all public functionaries. Moreover, discrepancies resulting from two categories of functionaries subject to the Palestinian Law on Public Retirement and Jordanian Law on Civil Retirement as well as inconsistencies in rights and obligations will be avoided.
Al-Helow pointed out studies conducted by relevant parties to bridge the gap between the retirement systems of military personnel and civil servants. Some sort of justice should be made in this regard.
The speaker also addressed the Decree Law, which introduces amendments and additions to the Palestinian Law on Public Retirement. The Decree Law entails new provisions that complement the Law, particularly in issues pertaining to secondments, academic leaves and insurance of natural disabilities. The Decree Law also reflects the Palestinian legislator’s willingness to strike a balance between retirement systems of civil servants and military personnel as well as to create a consolidated system of retirement.
Though difficult, the Decree Law governs functionaries at private and civil society organisations. In reality, such a regulation requires amendment of a number of articles under the Law. Since the nature of work at private and civil society organisation differs from that at public institutions, special studies need be developed in this regard.  
In this context, Al-Helow highlighted an article under the Decree Law which allows the Council of Ministers to retire on pension functionaries who complete 15 years of service, thereby setting panic amongst functionaries. Administrative decisions, however, should be eligible and legitimate as well as be designed to serve the public interest. The judiciary should also tackle contraventions against the Law.
In conclusion, participants raised questions about whether it is possible to integrate functionaries at private and civil society organisations into the system of public retirement; the rationale of approving early retirement; and reasons behind discrepant retirement systems of civil servants and military personnel.