Monthly Archives: August 2015

How Israel withholds labour rights from the West Bank’s Palestinian workers (The Conversation)

The Conversation

How Israel withholds labour rights from the West Bank’s Palestinian workers

Palestinian workers on the West Bank. Reuters/Ammar Awad

As Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories edges towards its 50th year, violent incidents in the West Bank remain fairly sporadic. The political and economic reality of coexistence in the Palestinian territories has made Palestinians and Israelis deeply interdependent – and especially Palestinian workers and Israeli employers and corporations.

That relationship has always been legally tangled, but in recent weeks, there’ve been new developments that could make things even worse.

To begin with, the Israeli National Labour Court found that Israeli law does not apply to Palestinians working for Israelis in the Jordan Valley, an area of the West Bank that has become infamous for child labour.

Meanwhile, the leader of the right-wing party Jewish Home, Naftali Bennett, succumbed to pressure placed by Israeli farmers in the Jordan Valley and stepped back from his previous commitment to apply Israeli labour law in the West Bank.

That spells misery for West Bank Palestinians working for Israeli employers and corporations, and doubles down on a regime of profound legal inequality.


Tens of thousands of Israelis are moving into existing settlements and establishing new ones (often on private Palestinian land) –not for ideological reasons, but because the costs are lower and the standard of living is higher than in Israel proper. For the same reason, a great many Israeli businesses are moving to the settlements and to industrial zones. Many of these businesses, especially in sectors such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture, rely on cheap Palestinian labour for their profits.

The Israeli government is still choking the development of an independent Palestinian economy through military orders that curb the use of funds, imposes limits on the supply of water and electricity and restricts access to farm land through the permit system and the separation barrier. That means Palestinians are increasingly forced to rely on Israeli employers to make ends meet.

This is not an unwelcome development on the Israeli side. Palestinian workers are especially attractive to Israeli employers because of a very particular legal situation that’s arisen over the past few years.

Heavy load. Reuters/Ammar Awad

Until 2007, the assumption was that Palestinians were employed in the settlements and in Israeli-owned industries according to the Jordanian law that was in place when Israel conquered the West Bank – except where that law was modified by the military commander of the region.

This situation was based on the law of occupation, which dictates that the occupier should respect the law in force in the occupied territory. However, as the occupation became a prolonged one, a situation developed that those who drafted the laws of occupation never imagined.

Israelis lived in the territory and conducted their economic life as if under Israeli law (as is their prerogative) while employing Palestinians under Jordanian law in the West Bank and Egyptian law in Gaza. Different laws apply for people doing the same work, who are different only by virtue of their race or nationality.

The result is not mere discrimination. The application of different laws for different sections of people is very close to, if not reaches the core of, apartheid.

Separate and unequal

The Israeli Supreme Court, politically savvy as ever, addressed this issue in 2007. In a landmark decision, it ruled that where Palestinians work side-by-side with Israelis in Israeli “exclaves” created from illegal settlements and industrial zones, then the same Israeli law should apply to both Israelis and Palestinians.

Paradoxically, this was not just a victory for Palestinians and their Israeli supporters. It was also supported by right-wing Israeli nationalists, who advocate the annexation of Palestinian land through the application of Israeli law to Area C, the West Bank’s largest subdivision. But the ruling both created problems for Israeli businesses established in the West Bank and explicitly relied on a law that is already anything but generous to Palestinians.

Since 2007, the situation has evolved on both sides. Some Palestinian workers have taken advantage of the rights the Supreme Court decision guaranteed them, while right-wing members of the Knesset continued their efforts to expand the application of Israeli labour law.

Many Israeli businesses sprung into action and began searching for loopholes in the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision. So Israeli law should apply where the employer is Israeli? No problem, we’ll engage a Palestinian intermediary to sign the cheques. So Israeli law should apply where the employment is based in an Israeli exclave? That’s fine, we’ll move the undertaking out of the industrial zone, meaning the employer’s obligations are eased, but their workers still regulated by the same highly restrictive permit regime.

This issue was looked into by the National Labour Court, but sadly, it gave its stamp of approval to legal trickery and ushered in the shameful state of affairs we see today, where the application of different laws to different people is formally acknowledged.

As for Naftali Bennett, he could have responded with a proud national pronouncement that would indicate that nationalist ideology comes at a cost. Come to think of it, perhaps that’s exactly what he did – only the cost is for the Palestinians to bear.

Support the struggle of the Palestinian people and the international BDS campaign (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions)

العماϝ مع والنضاϝ للتضامن الدولية العمل شبϜة
International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles
Red Sindical Internacional de Solidariedad y de Luchas
Réseau Syndical International de Solidarité et de Luttes
Rede Sindical Internacional de Solidariedade e Lutas

August 14, 2015

Support the struggle of the Palestinian people and the international BDS campaign (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions)

67 years after the Nakba, Palestinians still struggle for independence and the right of return. Workers and unions in Palestine have a long tradition of participation and sacrifice in this struggle, which dates back to the years of British rule.

Palestinians face the continued colonial and apartheid policies. Gazans are exposed to repeated military aggressions (2200 more died over the summer 2014) and decimating economic siege; Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are dispossessed of their homes and land; Palestinians living in 1948 territories are discriminate by more than 30 racist laws; Palestinian refugees are prevented from their right of return. These racist Israeli policies rule out any possibility of political organization by the people for their rights, and prevent any productive economic development that could enable the Palestinian people to live in dignity.

Based on this colonial situation, all development plans imposed on Palestinians are based on neo-liberal policies that favour the interests of large companies, local and international, while leading to rising inequality in society. The capacity to mobilize for social and political rights in Palestine is questioned, both by colonial domination, within the Palestinian autonomy, by the unwavering support of Western governments for the Israeli State, and finally by economic and security coordination between the Israeli state and the Palestinian National Authority.

International Labour network of solidarity and struggles must mitigate the failure of States, support the resistance and Palestinian independent unions, and oppose any attempt to restrict or criminalize the solidarity of workers and citizens worldwide with Palestine.

Noting the failure of the Oslo process, our commitment is reflected in the international BDS campaign (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), which aims to put pressure on Israel until Palestinian rights are respected:

 The end of the occupation and colonization, the dismantling of the Wall and the end of the Gaza blockade.

 Equal rights for Palestinians living in 1948 territories, the end of apartheid and the release of political prisoners.

 The implementation of the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

 Self-determination for Palestinians, for which the end of the racist Zionist State is a requirement.

Our international union network helps make the BDS campaign more effective by coordinating, worldwide:

 Common boycott targets, such as boats of the Israeli company Zim, medication of the Israeli drug company Teva, Mekhorot water company, etc. and the necessary break of any ties with the racist Israeli union Histadrut

 Common divestment targets, such as the French phone company Orange, accomplice of colonization in Palestine, all those who collaborate with Israeli military companies such as Elbit, the British G4S, …

 Common requirement for sanctions, that the State of Israel be brought before the International Criminal Court to account for its crimes, and the demand for all governments to break economic, military and diplomatic ties with Israeli State.

Les organisations membres du Réseau syndical international de solidarité et de lutte Organisations syndicales nationales interprofessionnelles  Central Sindical e Popular Conlutas (CSP-Conlutas) – Brésil.  Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) – Etat espagnol.  Union syndicale Solidaires (Solidaires) – France.  Confédération Générale du Travail du Burkina (CGT-B) – Burkina.  Confederation of Indonesia People’s Movement (KPRI) – Indonésie.  Confederación Intersindical (Intersindical) – Etat espagnol.  Syndicat National Autonome des Personnels de l’Administration Publique (SNAPAP) – Algérie.   Batay Ouvriye – Haïti.  Unione Sindacale Italiana (USI) – Italie.  Confédération Nationale des Travailleurs – Solidarité Ouvrière (CNT SO) – France.  Sindicato de Comisiones de Base (CO.BAS) – Etat espagnol.  Organisation Générale Indépendante des Travailleurs et Travailleuses d’Haïti (OGTHI) – Haïti.  Sindacato Intercategoriale Cobas (SI COBAS) – Italie.  Confédération Nationale du Travail (CNT-f) – France.  Intersindical Alternativa de Catalunya (IAC) – Catalogne.  Union Générale des Travailleurs Sahraouis (UGTSARIO) – Sahara occidental.  Ezker Sindikalaren Konbergentzia (ESK) – Pays basque.  Confédération Nationale de Travailleurs du Sénégal Forces du Changement (CNTS/FC) – Sénégal.  Independent Trade Unions for Egyptian Federation (EFITU) – Egypte.  Sindicato Autorganizzato Lavorator COBAS (SIAL-COBAS) – Italie.  General Federation of Independent Unions (GFIU) – Palestine.  Confederación de la Clase Trabajadora (CCT) – Paraguay.  Red Solidaria de Trabajadores – Perou Organisations syndicales nationales professionnelles  National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT/TUC) – Grande-Bretagne.  Centrale Nationale des Employés – Confédération Syndicale Chrétienne (CNE/CSC) – Belgique.  Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores del Sistema Agroalimentario (SINALTRAINAL/CUT) – Colombie.  Fédération Générale des Postes, Telecom et Centres d’appel – Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (FGPTT/UGTT) – Tunisie.  Trade Union in Ethnodata – Trade Union of Empoyees in the Outsourcing Companies in the financial sector – Grèce.  Syndicat national des travailleurs des services de la santé humaine (SYNTRASEH) – Bénin  Sindicato dos Trabalhadores da Fiocruz (ASFOC-SN) – Brésil.  Organizzazione Sindicati Autonomi e di Base Ferrovie (ORSA Ferrovie) – Italie.  Union Nationale des Normaliens d’Haïti (UNNOH) – Haïti.  Confederazione Unitaria di Base Scuola Università Ricerca (CUB SUR) – Italie.  Confederazione Unitaria di Base Immigrazione (CUB Immigrazione) – Italie.  Coordinamento Autorganizzato Trasporti (CAT) – Italie.  Confederazione Unitaria di Base Credito e Assicurazioni (CUB SALLCA) – Italie.  Syndicat des travailleurs du rail – Union Nationale des Travailleurs du Mali (SYTRAIL/UNTM) – Mali.  Gıda Sanayii İşçileri Sendikası – Devrimci İşçi Sendikaları Konfederasyonu (GIDA-IŞ/DISK) – Turquie.  Syndicat National des Travailleurs du Petit Train Bleu/SA (SNTPTB) – Sénégal.  Asociación Nacional de Funcionarios Administrativos de la Caja de Seguro Social (ANFACSS) – Panama.  Conseil des Lycées d’Algérie (CLA) – Algérie.  Confederazione Unitaria di Base Trasporti (CUB Trasporti) – Italie.  Syndicat de l’Enseignement Supérieur Solidaire (SESS) – Algérie.  Palestinian Postal Service Workers Union (PPSWU) – Palestine.  Union Syndicale Etudiante (USE) – Belgique.  Sindicato dos Trabalhadores de Call Center (STCC) – Portugal.  Sindicato Unitario de Trabajadores Petroleros (Sinutapetrolgas) – Venezuela.  Alianza de Trabajadores de la Salud y Empleados Publicos – Mexique.  Canadian Union of Postal Workers / Syndicat des travailleurs et travailleuses des postes (CUPW-STTP) – Canada. Organisations syndicales locales  Trades Union Congress, Liverpool (TUC Liverpool) – Angleterre.  Sindacato Territoriale Autorganizzato, Brescia (ORMA Brescia) – Italie.  Fédération syndicale SUD Service public, canton de Vaud (SUD Vaud) – Suisse  Sindicato Unitario de Catalunya (SU Metro) – Catalogne.  Türkiye DERİ-İŞ Sendikasi, Tuzla et Izmir (DERİ-İŞ Tuzla et Izmir) – Turquie.  L’autre syndicat, canton de Vaud (L’autre syndicat) – Suisse  Centrale Générale des Services Publics FGTB, Ville de Bruxelles (CGSP/FGTB Bruxelles) – Belgique  Arbeitskreis Internationalismus IG Metall, Berlin (IG Metall Berlin) – Allemagne  Sindicato Unificado de Trabajadores de la Educación de Buenos Aires, Bahia Blanca -(SUTEBA/CTA de los trabajadores Bahia Blanca) – Argentine  Sindicato del Petróleo y Gas Privado del Chubut/CGT – Argentine. Organisations syndicales internationales  Industrial Workers of the World – International Solidarity Commission (IWW) Courants, tendances ou réseaux syndicaux  Transnationals Information Exchange Germany (TIE Germany) – Allemagne.  Emancipation tendance intersyndicale (Emancipation) – France.  Globalization Monitor (Gmo) – Hong Kong.  Courant Syndicaliste Révolutionnaire (CSR) – France.  No Austerity – Coordinamento delle lotte – Italie.  Solidarité Socialiste avec les Travailleurs en Iran (SSTI) – France.  Basis Initiative Solidarität (BASO) – Allemagne.  LabourNet Germany – Allemagne.  Resistenza Operaia – operai Fiat-Irisbus – Italie.