Special meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Défense Committee discusses the issue of trade in permits of Palestinian workers.

On July 3, MAAN’s Executive Director Assaf Adiv participated in a special meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Committee on Foreign Workers. The meeting was dedicated to the issue of Illegal trade in permits for Palestinian workers. This trade is a “cross border” business performed jointly by Israeli employers and Palestinian brokers that exhort hard working Palestinians taking advantage of the loops in the current entry system for work in Israel.

Participants included representatives from the Payment Division, led by Attorney Inbal Mashash, and representatives of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) led by Lt. Col. Elad Goren, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Labor, the Police, the Tax Authority, the Builders Association, the Histadrut (Israeli labor federation), the workers’ rights organization Kav Laoved and MAAN Workers Association.

The discussion was chaired by the Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Yuli Edelstein, along with the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Workers, MK Eliyahu Revivo (Likud). MK Ram Ben Barak (Yesh Atid), who served as Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the previous Knesset, also participated.

Attorney Mashash reported on the steps taken by her office against employers who allegedly sold work permits in violation of the law. Lt. Col. Goren from COGAT then presented the joint activities of all the entities involved in the matter, including the Civil Administration, the Ministry of Interior, the Police, the Tax Authority, and the Ministry of Labor.

It soon became clear that there is wall-to-wall agreement among security and economic officials regarding the need to allow the continued entry of Palestinian workers into Israel and even to increase their numbers. Various speakers emphasized that the entry of these workers has positive implications both economically, for Israel and for the Palestinian society, and additionally in terms of security and diplomacy, as it reduces tension.

According to the reports presented to the committee, notably those by Attorney Mashash and Lt. Col. Goren, approximately 80 investigations opened in 2022 against Israeli employers who appeared to have violated the law. Some 25 of them were issued with restraining orders preventing them from obtaining permits for workers, while another 50 employers faced various other penalties.

Lt. Col. Goren mentioned an attempt to coordinate with the Palestinian Authority (PA) regarding steps against Palestinian agents who openly sell illegal permits in Palestinian cities. According to his report, the Palestinian Authority closed five such offices (the report did not clarify whether punitive measures were taken against the agents). Lt. Col. Goren noted, however, that due to the fact that the PA is functioning poorly, the campaign against such agents has been suspended in recent months.

The steps reported, such as opening investigations against dozens of employers and denying them the right to employ Palestinian workers, are commendable and represent a positive change compared to the years of complete inaction on this issue. However, none of the official speakers presented numerical data on the trade in permits in the past year, and no trends were mentioned of any increase or decrease in the number of these illegal permits.

Assaf Adiv from MAAN presented a recent report published by Dr. Hagai Etkes from the Research Department of the Bank of Israel, indicating that there are approximately 58,000 Palestinian workers who are forced to purchase illegal permits through agents. These figures are considered reliable, as they are based on information published on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

MAAN’s Executive Director pointed out that according to this data, all steps taken so far have not led to a meaningful decrease in the illicit trade in permits. The only way to stop this, he suggested, is by adopting the “Green Card” model for Palestinian workers. This model, proposed by MAAN in collaboration with the legal aid organization LEAP led by Prof. Kenneth Mann, is a practical alternative that transfers ownership of the permit to the worker. This transfer of ownership would eliminate employers’ control of permits which allows them to sell them, and thus perpetuates the illegal practice of trade in permits.

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אנא כתבו את שמכם המלא, טלפון ותיאור קצר של נושא הפנייה, ונציג\ה של מען יחזרו אליכם בהקדם האפשרי.

رجاءً اكتبوا اسمكم الكامل، الهاتف، ووصف قصير حول موضوع توجهكم، ومندوب عن نقابة معًا سيعاود الاتصال بكم لاحقًا








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