TV report highlights exploitative illegal trade in work permits for Palestinians
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TV report highlights exploitative illegal trade in work permits for Palestinians

Employers said to use inflated manpower quotas to obtain surplus documents, which they then rent out to West Bank laborers desperate to earn a living

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Palestinian workers wait to cross a checkpoint to work in Israel at the security barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on August 23, 2010. (Najeh Hashlamoun/Flash 90)
Palestinian workers wait to cross a checkpoint to work in Israel at the security barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on August 23, 2010. (Najeh Hashlamoun/Flash 90)

Israeli employers working together with Palestinian dealers have reportedly been “renting out” work permits that grant entry into the country to West Bank laborers, in a black market that earns them thousands of shekels a month per laborer.

West Bank Palestinians seeking a permit to work in Israel pay around NIS 2,500 ($688) to traders who deal in the documents, which are official but obtained through dishonest means, Hadashot TV news reported Sunday.

The cost often amounts to nearly half of their total income, and is paid out of pocket.

Sa’ari, a Palestinian laborer, told Hadashot that “people are being exploited.”

“A person who wants to earn a living but has no employer must buy a permit,” he said.

Another laborer told the news channel that some Palestinians work seven days a week in order to pay off the additional cost of purchasing the permit.

Screen capture from video of the conditions inside Checkpoint 300, near Bethlehem, October 2018. (Hadashot news)

According to the report, Israelis who want to employ Palestinian workers from the West Bank must submit a request for work permits to the Population, Immigration and Border Authority based on their manpower needs.

However, many contractors present an inflated quota in order to obtain surplus work permits for additional Palestinians who have passed security checks and are seeking work in Israel. The contractors locate the Palestinians via local West Bank dealers, who together with the Israeli contractors demand a monthly kickback for the work permits, the report said.

In order to avoid social welfare requirements, such as paying compensation when workers are laid off, the contractors reportedly often cancel the permits every six months, the point at which the Palestinian laborers would become eligible for such benefits under Israeli law. The process then starts anew.

Currently, 58,000 Palestinians have Israeli work permits, although experts assess that about 120,000 Palestinians from the West Bank are actually employed — both legally and illegally — by Israelis.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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