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In response to the United Nations’ anti-Israel blacklist, Palestinian Media Watch released a report showing that Arabs overwhelmingly prefer to work for Israeli employers, not Palestinians.

By Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, Palestinian Media Watch

In response to the United Nations’ release of its blacklist of Israeli companies that conduct business in Judea and Samaria, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) released this report “Palestinians prefer to work for Israeli employers” – based on previous PMW releases.

The report shows that according to Palestinian workers, Palestinian lawyers, and the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, Palestinians enjoy better working conditions and prefer working for Israeli employers – including in Israeli towns beyond the Green Line in Judea and Samaria– rather than working for Palestinian employers. For example, wages are four times higher with Israeli employers than with Palestinian employers, and Palestinian workers receive health benefits, sick leave, and vacation time to the same degree as Israelis do.

By trying to harm Israeli companies that have “activities” in Judea and Samaria, the UN is also harming the many Palestinians who work in these businesses, and who enjoy the better conditions offered by these Israeli enterprises. If the UN’s new BDS-flavored efforts lead to a larger boycott of these businesses, eventually they may have to let go of employees, among them Palestinians. Furthermore, it is likely that there will be pressure from the PA on Palestinians who work for the blacklisted businesses to leave their jobs.

One Israeli business blacklisted by the UN is the supermarket Rami Levi, which is known for its peaceful coexistence of Palestinian and Israeli co-workers in all positions of employment.

Why Palestinians Prefer Israeli Employers

During an official Palestinian Authority TV program called Workers’ Affairs, which focused on internal labor issues for Palestinians, Israel was lauded for its better conditions for Palestinians. Israeli labor laws, positive working conditions, higher pay, health benefits, vacation time and more that Palestinian workers enjoy while working for Israelis were praised by Palestinian workers and their lawyers.

In fact, conditionsare so much better for Palestinians who work for Israelis rather than for Palestinians that the official PA daily explained that Palestinians will quit their jobs with Palestinian employers when given the opportunity to work for an Israeli employer instead. This conclusion was supported by surveys by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics

“Israeli labor law is a very good law regarding workers’ rights… Unfortunately… the Palestinian middleman… takes 50 percent, 60 percent, and even 70 percent of [a Palestinian woman’s] salary. If her daily salary is 180 shekels, in the end she receives 60 shekels. The [Palestinian] middleman steals two thirds of her salary,” reported an expert on official Palestinian Authority TV in 2016.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in 2017, “The average daily wage for [Palestinian] employees in [Judea and Samaria] was 98.8 shekels… Gaza Strip 56.7 shekels… in Israel and the Israeli settlements 233.3 shekels.”

Similarly, Wael Nazif, CEO of the PA Labor Union commented on PA TV in 2018, “It is inconceivable that the Palestinian worker receives his full rights from the Israeli employers, but not from the Palestinian ones.”

The higher Israeli salaries have been consistent for years according to surveys published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. In addition, Palestinian workers who work for Israelis have much better working conditions than those employed by Palestinians, and by Israeli law receive the same rights and protection that Israeli workers have.

An Israeli Arab labor attorney who represents Palestinian laborers explained why it is preferable to work for Israelis, in two different interviews on the official PA TV program Workers’ Affairs.

Lawyer Khaled Dukhi, who works with the Israeli NGO Workers’ Hotline, said that Israeli labor law is “very good” because it does not differentiate between men and women, Israelis and Palestinians, or Muslims and Jews. However, he explained that Palestinian workers who work for Israelis still suffer because Palestinian middlemen “steal” a significant part of their salaries, especially those of women.

Dukhi explained, “Israeli labor law is a very good law regarding workers’ rights, for both men and women. Israeli law does not differentiate between a worker who has entered Israel illegally or legally… For instance, the Palestinian female workers in the agricultural sector enjoy many rights, like any Israeli worker in the agricultural sector: The salary is higher than the minimum wage, 14 vacation days a year in the first four years, 2,000 shekels convalescence pay [yearly] in the first year and 2,200 shekels in the second and third year for every worker in Israel, payment for holidays, whether Islamic or Jewish. It is a matter of choice.”

Qassem Abu Hadwan, a laborer from Hebron, explained that Palestinian employers often exploit their workers and pay less than half the wages, causing many Palestinians to prefer to work for Israeli employers.

Abu Hadwan explained, “The lack of monitoring of [Palestinian] owners of companies and factories and their exploitation of workers is what has forced people to Israel, to work and build in Israel.”

Libel in International Forums

The great conditions that Palestinian workers experience working for Israeli employers, and the preference amongst Palestinians to work for them, do not stop the Palestinian Authority leadership from libeling Israel in international forums, claiming Israel denies Palestinian workers their rights and promoting BDS – the boycotting of Israeli businesses, even those that employ Palestinians.

It should also be noted that the PA itself enjoys the benefits of Palestinians working for Israeli employers. 75% of the income tax paid by Palestinians working in Israel is transferred to the PA. In 2017 alone, this provision provided the PA with no less than 135,000,000 shekels. In 2018 through October 2019 Israel transferred to the PA 277,740,024 shekels.

As is seen from official Palestinian Authority media, and statistics, Palestinian workers – whether working in Israel within the Green Line, or in Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria – are paid more than double by Israeli employers as they would receive if working for a Palestinian one. They also enjoy rights and benefits equal to others when working for Israelis, with no gender or religious discrimination.

When working for Israelis, the only situation in which Palestinian workers, especially women, would not receive their full wages paid by the Israeli employer is when a Palestinian middleman may “steal” it. When looking at the work experience for Palestinians who work for Israelis and Palestinians, according to the testimonies in this report, it is clear why the official PA daily wrote that Palestinian workers, when given the opportunity, will prefer working for Israelis.

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