A Step Back for Palestinian Workers’ Rights and for Israeli Democracy
Palestinians working at a grove of date palms in the Jordan Valley. Photo Credit: Michal Fattal
Aug. 23, 2016 - Haaretz: Israel’s justice minister has recently instituted a new regulation that will undermine the right of Palestinians living in the West Bank who are employed by Israelis – in Israel or the West Bank – to seek legal redress for abusive and unlawful labor practices.
The Jewish Labor Committee opposes this new regulation, explicitly designed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, both of the right-wing, pro-settler Habayit Hayehudi party, to prevent Palestinian employees of Israeli businesses from benefiting from Israel’s progressive labor laws. We call on the Knesset and Israel’s Supreme Court to act forthrightly to defend these workers’ just rights to fair labor practices, and nullify the new regulation.
Under the new requirement, non-citizens will be obligated to make a monetary deposit before submitting a lawsuit against an employer in Israeli labor court, unless they can immediately present evidence proving their claim. If they cannot do so, the deposit will be forfeited. Such a measure would primarily affect Palestinians living in the West Bank – most notably those who work on Israeli-owned farms in the Jordan Valley, who will greatly suffer the consequences – by placing a heavy financial burden on those who seek to sue their Israeli employers for labor-law violations. Israeli farmers in the valley, who in the past have been sued for labor law violations, have applauded this new measure.
As an organization that cares about Israel’s future as a democratic and progressive society, this matters to us, and should matter to others as well.