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World Labor Agency Charges Israel Discriminates Against Arab Workers

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The International Labor Organization urged Israel on Tuesday to eliminate alleged employment discrimination against Arab workers in the Israeli-administered territories and to remedy what it charged were inequities in the provision of social benefits to them.

A report issued by the ILO on Tuesday blames those conditions on “considerations of state security, which are omnipresent in relations between the Israeli authorities and the Palestinian people and workers of the occupied territories.”

It says that “inequality of opportunity and treatment is evident in access to employment and conditions of employment.

The report is an appendix to the ILO director general’s report to the 76th session of the International Labor Conference, which opens here on June 7.

Annexed to it are communications received from Arab countries and organizations, as well as from the Israeli government.

The report is based on a recent ILO mission to the region, which found a serious deterioration of the economy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It attributed this to the Palestinian uprising, now in its 18th month.

ECONOMIC DECLINE IN TERRITORIES

The report expresses serious concern over the “violation of trade union rights,” in the territories, “interference in trade union activities and repression against trade unionists, whose effect is to destroy the trade union movement and create an atmosphere of intimidation tending to draw workers away from trade unions.”

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee made similar charges against Israeli labor practices last summer, in an attempt to disqualify Israel from receiving certain U.S. trade benefits.

Last month, the U.S. trade representative rejected those charges, though it limited its ruling to cover Arab workers in Israel, rather than the administered territories.

The ILO report quotes an official Israeli government survey as saying that living standards in the territories have fallen 50 percent and economic activity has declined by some 30 percent since the start of the Palestinian uprising in December 1987.

“Resolute measures should be taken as soon as possible to halt the economic decline in the occupied Arab territories,” the ILO report states.

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