Official Palestinian Press: Israel Treats Our Workers Better Than the Palestinian Authority (VIDEO)
Despite toeing a heavily anti-Israel editorial policy, a Palestinian Authority (PA) mouthpiece in the West Bank has published an article – ironically – praising Israel’s treatment of Palestinian workers, a Palestinian media watchdog group said Tuesday.
“The only cases in which a Palestinian worker does not receive the salary his Israeli [employer] determined for him are those cases in which the middleman is Palestinian,” Al-Hayat Al-Jadida wrote on Sept. 21.
Among the points raised in the unlikely account, were Israeli work ethics, salaries, insurance benefits, and workers’ rights – all lauded in comparison to similar issues within PA-controlled areas.
Between 30 to 40 percent of Palestinians are unemployed, according to Palestinian statistics.
“Whenever Palestinian workers have the opportunity to work for Israeli employers, they are quick to quit their jobs with their Palestinian employers – for reasons having to do with salaries and other rights,” the article pointed out, according to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).
“The salaries of workers employed by Palestinians amount to less than half the salaries of those who work for Israeli employers in the areas of the Israel-occupied West Bank…” the author noted, adding that “[Israeli] work conditions are very good, and include transportation, medical insurance and pensions. These things do not exist with Palestinian employers.”
PA-based construction worker, Muhammad Al-Hinnawi, was quoted as declaring that “I receive a daily salary of 70 shekels, without pension, and I have no other choice.” In comparison, Thaer Al-Louzi, who was hurt in an on-the-job accident at his Israeli concrete factory, said “I received a salary of 140 shekels a day. Now, after I was injured, I receive a salary through the insurance.”
“A female worker in the agriculture sector, who asked to go by the name ‘Nadia,’ told the reporter that, ‘For over five years, I have been receiving a daily salary of 50 shekels for my work in agriculture, and the salary has stayed the same. That’s how it is for those working for Palestinians in agriculture.'”
Meanwhile, Jordan Valley village resident and agricultural worker, Muhammad Hassan, who works at Israeli settlements, said: “‘I receive a daily salary of over 100 shekels for picking vegetables, and every day a bus takes us to work and back. The only cases in which a Palestinian worker does not receive the salary his Israeli [employer] determined for him are those cases in which the middleman is Palestinian. This is because he employs the workers at his own expense, and he is the one who pays their salaries, which puts the worker at risk of being exploited or having his wages withheld.'”
In a related example, the SodaStream factory, in the town of Ma’ale Adumim, east of Jerusalem and just over the Green Line, employs 900 people, 500 of whom are local Palestinian Arabs. Both the company, its employees, and its spokeswoman, actress Scarlett Johansson, believe these paying jobs, assembling its home water carbonation machines, are helping build peace.
“We’re giving livelihoods to 500 people who feed 5,000 people who will have no other jobs, CEO Daniel Birnbaum told the BBC, in an interview earlier this year, filmed partly on the factory floor. “Throwing them into unemployment is not what’s going to bring peace to this area, that’s for sure.”
In the end, however, the factory recently reported that it is considering closing the plant, and moving to a location within Israel, near Beersheba.
“The considerations will be purely financial, and do not include the European boycott on manufacturing in the territories,” Birnbaum told Israel’s The Marker. “Nor will they include the various calls to boycott products of the company because of its location in Maale Adumim. The boycott is a nuisance, but does not cause serious financial damage. We are not giving in to the boycott. We are Zionists.”
It was unclear, however, if the Palestinians would be able to continue working for the firm, after such a proposed move.
Watch a video debate between SodaStream’s CEO and Oxfam’s Ben Phillips:
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