Palestina - Difficulties for Palestinians working in areas under Israeli labour laws (2012)

A 2010 survey by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics found that unemployment stood at 17% in the West Bank compared with 38% in the Gaza Strip. Around a fifth of salaried workers still lived below the poverty line. They study also found that 65,000 Palestinians were working in Israel. Palestinians employed in Israel and in Israeli settlements accounted for 15% of salaried Palestinians in the West Bank. Some 35,000-50,000 Palestinians are believed to work in the settlements, many informally.

Israeli law has in theory applied equally to both Israeli and Palestinian workers in Israel since 2007. However, the law is often not enforced, is poorly monitored and in the event of abuse, it is very difficult for Palestinian workers to obtain redress and take a case to court. In many instances, employers continue to pay Palestinian workers less than the Israeli minimum wage, and they work in poor health and safety conditions. Increasingly, children are also found working in settlements, often in construction with poor safety conditions and no insurance.

Israel began transferring overdue pension payments to Gaza Strip residents who had worked in Israel before the blockade was imposed on the strip. According to the arrangement, money would be forwarded to the bank accounts of 92 beneficiaries in Gaza. Most of the beneficiaries used to work in Israeli hospitals and money had been deducted from their wages for their pension funds, as required by law.

In 2010, the Palestinian Authorities (PA) announced a ban prohibiting Palestinians from working in West Bank settlements as part of a wider campaign that included a national boycott of settlements. In addition to the poor conditions described above Palestinian workers in the settlements face harassment, racism and sometimes violence. However, the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) stated that they would not stop workers from working in settlements until the PA could provide alternative employment. The ban was due to come into force in 2011 with announced penalties of up to five years in jail or a USD14,000 fine for anyone found working in Israeli settlements. It is not clear to what extent the PA will enforce the ban as Israel still has to lift restrictions on labour movement.

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