Government says it is unable to enforce labor laws for Palestinians

The Justice Ministry will not be able to apply Israeli labor laws in the occupied West Banks by the end of the year, despite a January 1 deadline, the Knesset Public Petitions Committee learned last Tuesday. In a meeting on Palestinian workers’ rights, Economy Ministry representative Riki Yehezkel explained that the ministry cannot check if Palestinian workers in settlements businesses in the West Bank receive Israeli minimum wage, as required by law, “because the Justice Ministry has yet to declare which other labor laws apply to the region.”

Palestinian workers in Jerusalem (Photo: Al Ittihad)

Palestinian workers in Jerusalem (Photo: Al Ittihad)

Palestinians working within the Green Line enjoy the same labor laws as Israelis; however, Israeli law does not generally apply to residents of the occupied West Bank, regardless of their ethnicity, and each law has to be applied individually by an order from the IDF, which governs the West Bank. According to Palestinians figures the average daily wage for a Palestinian worker in settlements is bellow the legal minimum wage. “That number is based on the minimum wage the’re supposed to make,” MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) said of the average salary. “Who’s enforcing it?” Yehezkel said, “The Economy Minister enforces minimum wage if it receives complaints, but does not initiate enforcement. Over the last two years we investigated only 25 complaints over the Green Line, but the only labor law we can enforce is minimum wage.” Hana Zohar of the NGO Workers’ Hotline added: “Minimum wage law clearly applies to Palestinians and yet there’s a terrible situation in the Jordan Valley, where workers make only NIS 8 to 12 an hour without any other rights. One in four Palestinians pays his employer NIS 1,500-2,000 a month for work permits.”


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