The Kafala system that chains migrant workers in Qatar exists in Israel too: 200,000 Palestinians are subject to a regime of bonded labour, paying huge sums for work permits.

Criticism is being directed these days at Qatar, which is hosting the World Cup games. Most of it concerns Qatar’s treatment of the migrant workers who built the state-of-the-art stadiums.

A million workers came to Qatar from all over Asia and Africa to build the World Cup facilities. They were forced to sign draconian contracts known as Kafala, which forced them to pay thousands of dollars for a work permit, thus making them completely dependent on their employer in a method defined as bonded labor. In addition, according to The Guardian, 6500 workers died in accidents or because of bad living conditions. Qatar responded to criticism and introduced a reform in 2017, but according to Prof. Natasha Eskander of NYU, the reform did not fundamentally change the situation, and the extreme exploitation of workers continues to this day.

Israel has a similar system. 200,000 Palestinian workers are employed in the Israeli labour market under a similar system of bonded labour. Most commute daily from West Bank, plus about 15,000 from Gaza. They get their permits on condition that they continue to work for a specific employer. If they decide to leave him, they lose the permit and remain jobless.

The Israeli employers’ monopoly on permits allows them to trade unused permits for money. According to estimates, 70,000 Palestinians are forced to pay a monthly fee of NIS 2500 each ($715) to get such a permit. That is 30-40% of their wages.

Israeli Security Authorities say they oppose this criminal practice but insist on letting employers have control of permits. In response to calls to transfer the control to workers Israel says that it must keep the permits with the employers so they can maintain supervision over every worker who enters Israel.

Practice belies this excuse: the trade in unused permits creates a situation where many workers do not know their official employer at all, who in turn knows nothing about them or their whereabouts after they cross the checkpoint.

The security rationale does not hold water in this case. We are left with a corrupt and exploitative system that allows criminal contractors to get rich, while workers are exploited.

Just as we fight the Kafala in Qatar, so we must get rid of the current Permit System in Israel.

MAAN Workers Association calls on the government to give Palestinians work permits in their own names—Green Cards, we call them. A Green Card system will put an end to the criminal trade in permits and eliminate bonded labour.



Fighting for peace and cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli workers in times of war

Following is a talk by Yoav Gal Tamir that was given to the Global Labour Institute School under the headline “Young Union Leaders Imagining International Trade Unionism”. The GLI gathering of 100 activists took place at the end of November near Paris. MAAN’s representative Yoav Gal Tamir talked about the union’s role today, after the October Massacre by Hamas and Israel’s retaliation. Tamir also emphasized MAAN’s unique role as a union that works in Israel, defends and organizes both Israeli and Palestinian workers.

The East Jerusalem Project

Solidarity across borders: residents of East and West Jerusalem work together in crisis and build the foundations of a common future

Jerusalem after October 7 is a city marked by suspicion and fear. The city economy has been hit hard, and many in both the Jewish and Palestinian communities prefer to avoid public spaces. In the immediate days after the war began, checkpoints around the city have been shut, cutting off the Palestinians living in the outskirts of the city. That would be around one third of the city’s residents who are left in a dire economic situation. Amidst this, dozens of organizations – both Jewish and Palestinian – begun working to provide relief. MAAN Workers Association (MAAN) joined the Jerusalem’s civilian Emergency Center, especially the branch set up for the East Jerusalem residents. Together, these organizations in both sides of the city create an enclave of sanity, bringing hope in solidarity.


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

As an organization committed to the rights of workers without distinction of religion, race, nationality, gender, or profession - democracy is our essence. We strongly oppose the authoritarian laws that the extreme government of Netanyahu, Lapid, Bennett, and Smotrich is attempting to impose.

Without democracy, there are no workers' rights, just as a workers' organization cannot exist under dictatorship.

only a victory of the democratic camp will enable a discussion on the Palestinian issue and lead to an alternative solution to occupation and apartheid while ensuring human rights and citizenship for all, Israelis and Palestinians alike. As long as the apartheid regime persists, the democratic camp will not succeed in defeating Israeli extremists. Therefore, we work to involve the Arab and Palestinian society in the protest.

We invite you:

To march with us in protests and to build an alternative, democratic, Jewish-Arab professional union in Israel. Join our quiet WhatsApp group today, "Marching with us in protest."

To join MAAN and unite workers in your workplace. Read here how to join the organization.

To follow MAAN's work on social networks.

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