A new rule that makes it more difficult for Palestinians to sue their Israeli employers for abusive and unlawful behaviour has been denounced as unfair.
Trade unionists and politicians have called on Israel’s Supreme Court to nullify the regulation, which requires non-citizens to make a financial deposit before lodging a claim – money they would then lose if they cannot provide evidence proving illegality.
The Jewish Labor Committee has said it opposes the rule as it would mainly affect the tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank who are employed by Israelis, particularly on farms in the Jordan Valley.
“Forcing Palestinian employees of Israeli businesses to jump through hoops to benefit from Israel’s progressive labour laws is contrary to these workers’ basic rights,” said JLC chair Stuart Appelbaum, writing in Ha’aretz.
“Such a measure would primarily affect Palestinians… who will greatly suffer the consequences, by placing a heavy financial burden on those who seek to sue their Israeli employers for labour-law violations… It will only embitter their lives, providing yet another obstacle to rapprochement between Palestinians and Israelis.”
The regulation, which was pushed by Israel’s ultra-nationalist Justice Secretary Ayelet Shaked, has been welcomed by Israeli farmers in the valley who, in an investigative report two years ago, were shown to be denying Palestinian workers such things as pay slips, minimum wage, annual leave, sick leave and written employment contracts. In addition, the report showed how workers could be sacked “at will”.
Appelbaum said the new regulation, if not revoked, would “reinforce a social and political regime in the West Bank that enforces one set of laws for Israelis and another, inferior, set of regulations for Palestinians”.