Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Israeli employers collect millions from illegal Palestinian work permit trade

By K. Künzl - October 29, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [permits]

The illegal trade of work permits cost 20,000 Palestinians a total of $140 million just last year, all profited by brokers and Israeli companies.  

A study by the Bank of Israel estimates that approximately one-third of workers from the West Bank must obtain a permit.

Workers must pay between 1,500 and 2,000 shekels per month “between one third and one-half of their potential earning power in Israel” reported Haaretz.  Between travel costs and unreliable workloads, Palestinians take home only a couple hundred shekels a month.

The 2018 study also estimates that 122 million shekels were collected from the illegal permit business in one year alone, all to be distributed among brokers, Israeli clerks, and the employers whose names appear on the permits.

Most often, Palestinians who are forced to buy permits are unable to find long term work and must settle for casual, daily employment.  Sometimes it can take up to two or three months to find a job during which time the permit may expire. 

The sale of illegal permits has been circulating for the past 30 years unimpeded by authorities.  

The government allows the trade to continue for two reasons; the quotas for Palestinian workers that are set for each industry and because the permit ties the worker to a specific employer; “a person will receive an Israeli work permit only if the construction company, nursing home, factory, farm or restaurant has applied to employ him,” Haaretz reports.

The procedure for an employer to obtain a permit is long and requires the coordination of numerous official agencies. 

Palestinians who buy permits are also not allowed medical care or benefits, making them vulnerable to a loss of earnings if they suffer an injury at work.

With unemployment rates over 30 per cent in Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinians are desperate to find work in Israel and are willing to buy work permits illegally in order to “bypass restrictions tying them to a single employer,” Al Jazeera reported.

The Bank of Israel has called on the government to make reforms; "[Cancelling] the obligation for a Palestinian worker to work only for a predefined 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," the bank said.

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