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Histadrut Central Committee Upholds Decision to Continue Construction Work on West Bank

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The Histadrut central committee has upheld a controversial decision by the management of the Hevrat Ovdim Histadrut holding company to continue the labor federation’s construction activities on the West Bank.

Hevrat Ovdim and Histadrut spokesmen say that although they do not like the idea, they cannot afford to reject offers or refrain from entering tenders for such work because private firms would step in and carry out the construction work. This, the spokesmen say, would lead to unemployment among Histadrut members.

When Hevrat Ovdim’s decision was announced January 3 it was sharply attacked by the labor federation’s three leftwing components — Mapam, Sheli and the Communist Party. The three groups said that by accepting to construct housing in the occupied areas, the Histadrut and its majority Labor Party component were compromising their ideals.

This week, Labor Party Knesset member Yossi Sarid, a leading member of the party’s leftwing, said he will resign from the Histadrut if the federation’s Council, at its meeting at the end of this month, ratifies the central committee’s decision. He said the trade union should not compromise its principles for economic gain.

The Histadrut’s central committee said the labor federation should not itself initiate work on the West Bank nor undertake jobs in areas densely populated by Arabs, Final word on the union’s construction work in the territories rests with the Histadrut Council.

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