PMW Bulletins
Why Palestinians prefer to work for Israeli employers
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Why Palestinians prefer to work
for Israeli employers
 
  • PA Central Bureau of Statistics: Israelis pay Palestinian workers twice what they are paid by Palestinian employers
  • Israeli Arab attorney: The Israeli labor law is very good. Unfortunately Palestinian middlemen steal half or two thirds of women's salaries
  • Palestinian worker: Double salary draws Palestinian workers to Israel; in the PA they suffer exploitation
  • Statistic: "120,000 [Palestinians] work in Israel and the settlements" [Official PA TV, Workers' Affairs, May 11, 2016]


By Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Conditions for Palestinians working in Israel and the settlements are much better than in the Palestinian Authority, according to an Israeli Arab labor lawyer and a Palestinian laborer in two interviews on the PA TV program Workers' Affairs. The laborer explained that conditions are so much better that many Palestinian workers prefer or are "forced" to choose to work for Israeli employers.

Israeli Arab labor lawyer Khaled Dukhi, who works with the Israeli NGO Workers' Hotline, stated on the PA TV program that Israeli labor law is "very good" because it does not differentiate between men and women or between Israelis and Palestinians. However, he explained that Palestinian workers who work in Israel or in the settlements still suffer because Palestinian middlemen "steal" part of their salary:

 
   
 
"The Palestinian female workers in the [Israeli] 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]... payment for holidays, whether Islamic or Jewish. It is a matter of choice... [But] in reality, Palestinian workers - and especially the female Palestinian workers - do not receive these things. Why? You [PA TV host] said: 'The Palestinian middleman deducts from her [pay].' No, he does not deduct, he shares her salary. In practice, he takes 50%, 60%, and even 70% of her salary. If her daily salary is 180 shekels, in the end she receives 60 shekels. The middleman steals two thirds of her salary. Excuse the word ["steals"], but that is the exact word."
[Official PA TV, Workers' Affairs, March 16, 2016]
 
On a different episode of Workers' Affairs, Qassem Abu Hadwan, a laborer from Hebron, stated that Palestinian workers are "forced" to work in Israel because Palestinian employers exploit them and pay less than half:

 

"The lack of monitoring of [Palestinian] owners of companies and factories and their exploitation of workers is what has forced people to Israel... If only [the salary in the PA] was at least half of the salary [in Israel]... no one would work in Israel. However, workers have to go to Israel, because no one [in the PA] gives them what they deserve for their work.
[Official PA TV, Feb. 4, 16, 2016]

Abu Hadwan stated that although Israeli employers "exploit" Palestinian workers too, "they give them what they are entitled to." He explained that Palestinians would not work in Israel if the conditions in the PA were better, but since "a month's work here [in the PA] equals a week's work there [in Israel]," people are driven to seek employment in Israel or in the settlements.
 
The program's host concluded that exploitation and low salaries are the reason for Palestinian workers preferring to work in Israel and the settlements, and she suggested how the PA should change that:
 
PA TV host: "We need investments and for workers' rights to be honored. What motivates the workers, as we said, to go [to work in] the interior (i.e., Israel) or to the settlements is the exploitation that takes place [in the PA] and the low income."
[Official PA TV, Feb. 4 and 16, 2016]

The fact that Palestinians are paid double in Israel and by Israeli employers in the West Bank is corroborated by the PA's Central Bureau of Statistics. Palestinian Media Watch reported on the bureau's findings for 2014, which showed that Palestinians working for Israeli employers were paid twice what Palestinian employers paid them in the West Bank, and triple of what they received in the Gaza Strip. In February 2016, the bureau publicized similar findings for 2015:
 
"The average [daily] wage for employees in the West Bank was 94.1 shekels, and 61.9 shekels in the Gaza Strip, while the average for employees in Israel and the settlements was 198.9 shekels."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 26, 2016]

PMW has documented similar statements by Palestinians testifying to the fact that Palestinian workers' conditions are far better in Israel than in the PA.

Director of Democracy and Workers' Rights Center Hassan Al-Barghouti stated on PA TV in May 2016 that "120,000 [Palestinians] work in Israel and the settlements." [Official PA TV, May 11, 2016] The PA's Central Bureau of Statistics has stated that "the number of workers from the West Bank [that work] in Israel and the settlements reached 112,300 in 2015... and the number of workers in Israeli settlements reached 22,400."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 26, 2016]

The following are longer excerpts of the reports mentioned above:

Palestinian attorney: The Israeli labor law is very good but Palestinian middlemen steal half or two thirds of women's salaries
 
Attorney Khaled Dukhi of Worker's Hotline: "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... Unfortunately, even though it is very good, in practice, the law has become very bad for female Palestinian workers. 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."

TV host: "But in practice, do they enjoy these rights provided by law?"
 
Attorney Khaled Dukhi of Worker's Hotline: "In reality, Palestinian workers - and especially the female Palestinian workers - do not receive these things. Why? You said: "The Palestinian middleman deducts from her [salary]." No, he does not deduct, he shares her salary. In practice, he takes 50 percent, 60 percent, and even 70 percent of her salary. If her daily salary is 180 shekels, in the end she receives 60 shekels. The middleman steals two thirds of her salary. Excuse the word ["steals"], but that is the exact word."
 
TV host: "Yes, it reflects the reality."
[Official PA TV, Workers' Affairs, March 16, 2016]

Workers in the PA: Better salaries force Palestinian workers to Israel; in the PA they suffer exploitation

Laborer from Hebron, Qassem Abu Hadwan: "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. If only [the salary here in the PA] was at least half of the salary [in Israel]... no one would work in Israel. However, workers have to go to Israel, because no one [in the PA] gives them what they deserve for their work, whether in factories or in companies, and even in municipalities..." 

Official PA TV host: "Do you think that the low income and exploitation by [Palestinian] factory and workshop owners are what force people to go [to work] within the Green Line [in Israel] or in the settlements?" 

Laborer from Hebron, Qassem Abu Hadwan: "It is what forces the workers to Israel. Even though the Israelis exploit them, they give them what they are entitled to. In the end, when a worker goes to Israel and earns 200 or 180 shekels [a day] as opposed to what he earns here [in the PA], 50, 70, or 100 shekels, then he says: A month's work here equals a week's work there [in Israel]. How can it be compared?" 

Official PA TV host: "We need investments and for workers' rights to be honored. What motivates the workers, as we said, to go [to work in] the interior (i.e., Israel) or to the settlements is the exploitation that takes place [in the PA] and the low income... They [the workers] spoke about 12 hour days in construction work in the Palestinian market, as opposed to 8 hours in the Israeli interior."
[Official PA TV, Workers' Affairs, Feb. 4, and 16, 2016]

Palestinian workers are paid twice as much by Israel than by the PA in the West Bank

Headline: "The rate of unemployment in Palestine is 25.9 percent"
"The [PA] Central Bureau of Statistics publicized yesterday [Feb. 25, 2016] that... the number of workers in the local market reached 846,000 in 2015, as the number of workers in the West Bank reached 570,000, and 276,000 in the Gaza Strip....
11.7 percent of the workers work in Israel and the settlements. The number of workers from the West Bank [that work] in Israel and the settlements reached 112,300 in 2015... and the number of workers in Israeli settlements reached 22,400 in 2015.
The average daily wage for employees was 103.9 shekels in 2015... the average [daily] wage for employees in the West Bank was 94.1 shekels, and 61.9 shekels in the Gaza strip, while the average for employees in Israel and the settlements was 198.9 shekels."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 26, 2016]