Palestinians better off working in settlements, says PA daily

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida finds salaries and benefits higher across the board for those employed by Israelis rather than by Palestinians

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Palestinian workers from Jericho at the SM Valley farm (Photo credit: Mitch Ginsburg/ Times of Israel)
Palestinian workers from Jericho at the SM Valley farm (Photo credit: Mitch Ginsburg/ Times of Israel)

The Palestinian Authority’s official daily newspaper praised conditions for Palestinians working for Israelis in West Bank settlements, while decrying the low salaries and lack of benefits for those workers employed by Palestinians.

The September 21 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida article, translated by Palestinian Media Watch, said that “whenever Palestinian workers have the opportunity to work for Israeli employers, they are quick to quit their jobs with their Palestinian employers – for reasons having to do with salaries and other rights.”

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida interviewed a group of Palestinian workers for the piece, and found that those with Israeli bosses earned much more than those working for Palestinians.

Workers employed by Palestinians all said they do not have medical insurance, which is not mandated by Palestinian law, and do not receive stipends for transportation. Israeli employers usually pay for workers’ transportation in both directions, the newspaper found.

Israeli employers can also be relied upon to pay salaries.  “The only cases in which a Palestinian worker does not receive the salary his Israeli [employer] determined for him are those cases in which the middleman is Palestinian,” said Muhammad Hassan, an agricultural worker. “This is because he employs the workers at his own expense, and he is the one who pays their salaries, which puts the worker at risk of being exploited or having his wages withheld.”

“I work 10 hours a day and receive a monthly salary of not more than 1,900 shekels, and we have no additional rights like yearly vacations, travel expenses and so on,” said Fuad Qahawish, a waiter in a Palestinian restaurant. “My colleagues who do the same work for Israelis receive 4,000 shekels a month for the same number of hours.’

Wael Nazif, CEO of the Union of Palestinian Workers’ Organizations in the Jericho district, said it was “inconceivable that the Palestinian worker should receive his full rights from the Israeli employers but not from the Palestinian ones.”

While Israeli employers are required by law to pay Palestinian workers Israeli minimum wage, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida wrote,  the PA does not enforce its own minimum wage law.

“The Palestinian worker receives nearly all of his rights from his Israeli employers – even if through the courts of law – [and he] is entitled to yearly vacations, sick leave and overtime pay, and is paid for his travel expenses, while the majority of Palestinian employers do not provide these benefits to their workers, except for a few institutions which have begun implementing them without pressure from official parties,”  the article concluded.

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