Israeli central bank urges easing of rules on Palestinian workers

The bank is calling on the government to implement reforms to allow Palestinians to work for different employers.

    Thousands of Palestinians seek work in Israel due to high unemployment in Gaza and the occupied West Bank [File: Abed Omar Qusini/Reuters]
    Thousands of Palestinians seek work in Israel due to high unemployment in Gaza and the occupied West Bank [File: Abed Omar Qusini/Reuters]

    Israel's central bank has called on the government to ease rules on Palestinian workers who often buy work permits in the country illegally to bypass restrictions tying them to a single employer.

    About 20,000 Palestinian workers, or 30 percent of the Palestinian workforce in Israel, pay a monthly fee to obtain a permit from one employer and then work illegally for another, research from the Bank of Israel showed. 

    With unemployment in the occupied West Bank and Gaza at more than 30 percent, tens of thousands of Palestinians - mostly from the West Bank - legally work in Israel in jobs providing higher pay than those in Gaza and the West Bank.

    Three-quarters of Palestinians who purchased work permits worked in construction, bank research showed.

    It estimated annual revenue from the permit trade to be about 480 million shekels ($137m), with about 120 million shekels ($34.2m) in profits going to permit traders.

    The report said the 2,000-shekel ($570.9) monthly fee cancels out any worker income gains.

    Palestinians who purchased permits made 10,100 shekels ($2,883.2) on average each month compared with 7,800 shekels ($2,226.6) for those who obtained them legally.

    The Bank of Israel on Wednesday urged the government to implement reforms to the work-permit system that were approved in 2016 to allow Palestinian workers to hold jobs for different employers.

    "[Cancelling] the obligation for a Palestinian worker to work only for a predefined employer is expected to enhance the efficiency of the allocation of Palestinian workers, increase their output and income, [and] significantly reduce the illegal trade in work permits," the bank said.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency