JERUSALEM (Apr. 15)
Israel’s continuing ban on Palestinians from the administered territories from entering Israel proper has left some 23,000 Palestinian laborers waiting to receive last month’s paychecks.
Beyond the strain placed on those who cannot reach jobs in Israel proper is their inability to collect back pay.
The government, for its part, has suggested that monies owed be sent directly to workers in the territories.
But it appears that many Jewish employers have been taking advantage of the closure to avoid paying their Palestinian employees.
Labor Minister Ora Namir said she had instructed the Employment Service to take legal action against employers who would not honor wage commitments to their workers.
An estimated 120,000 Palestinians crossed into Israel proper on a daily basis before the closure, which has so far proven successful in ending the wave of violence that claimed 15 Jewish lives last month.
The ban has been partially lifted in recent days to allow small numbers of Palestinians to reach their jobs in Israel, but only a trickle of workers arrived Thursday.
Although the authorities have issued 8,800 permits, only 3,138 entered to work.
This seemed to be due to a combination of reasons, including permits not reaching the laborers, bureaucracy and local pressure on Palestinians not to return to work as long as the general ban remains in place.
So far, the government has allowed only Palestinian farm workers to enter Israel. By the beginning of next week, permits were expected to be given to workers in the construction industry.
The intention is to gradually lift the ban, beginning with the heads of families and veteran workers who have no security record.
At the same time, the authorities intend to create a new infrastructure in the territories which would provide much-needed jobs and revenues in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Israeli Cabinet authorized $40 million this week for such projects, which would enable the employment of some 10,000 Palestinians inside the territories.