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Israel’s central bank urges government to ease rules on Palestinian workers

September 25, 2019 at 8:30 pm

Israel’s central bank yesterday called for the government to ease rules on Palestinian workers coming from the occupied Palestinian territory, reported Reuters.

These workers “often purchase work permits in the country illegally to bypass restrictions tying them to a single employer.”

According to the report, research from the Bank of Israel showed that around 20,000 Palestinian workers – roughly 30 per cent of the total Palestinian workforce in Israel – “pay a monthly fee to obtain a permit with one employer and then work illegally for another”.

Unemployment in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip stands at more than 30 per cent, forcing “tens of thousands of Palestinians, most of them from the occupied West Bank” to “legally work in Israel in jobs providing higher pay than those in the Palestinian territories”.

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Of those who purchased work permits, the research found, three quarters work in construction. Overall, the estimated annual revenue from the “permit trade” is around $137 million.

Thus, the bank stated, the monthly fee “cancels out any worker income gains”.

The Bank of Israel “urged the government to implement reforms to the work permit system that were approved in 2016 to allow Palestinian workers to work for different employers”.

“[Cancelling] the obligation for a Palestinian worker to work only for a pre-defined employer is expected to enhance the efficiency of the allocation of Palestinian workers, increase their output and income, [and] significantly reduce the illegal trade in work permits,” said the bank.