Palestine: "Permits Brokers"; Mafias of Trafficking in Livelihoods.


Bisan Mustafa / Member of Arab Trade Union Media Network .

Palestine – Abu Jameel (nickname) is a citizen from Jenin. He had to pay about 3 thousand dollars to buy a permit for working inside the occupied territories in 1948, after he failed to obtain one of them as the Israeli bodies refused to grant him one for entrance and work purposes, under the pretext of receiving recommendations from the Israeli intelligence and due to security reasons. Those 3 thousand dollars were paid by Abu Jameel to one of the Palestinian citizens who hold an Israeli nationality for the purpose of issuing a work permit for him in order to work for few months only, and clearing his criminal record in the Israeli intelligence as he said.

Abu Jameel asserted that after the amount installments were received by the broker with the aim of issuing a work permit, he did not show up and his money went with the wind without any hope of retrieving it since the broker resides inside the Israeli territories. He added that a large number of workers were exposed to fraud by those brokers. Some brokers on the other hand fulfilled their promises and issued the permits, but they cancelled those permits after a specific period of time when they received all their requested amounts. Abu Jameel indicated that the need and lack of job opportunities are the factors that compelled the Palestinian citizen to seek the help of those brokers, in addition to the desire of entering Israel formally without any kind of harm, as smuggling methods aimed to reach some areas inside the occupied territories in 1984 may lead to death because of the pursues conducted by the occupation army.

He said that paying an amount - even if it reaches three thousand dollars - is better for us as workers than using smuggling ways, where vehicle drivers exploit each one of us by receiving more than 200 dollars for a transfer from one point to another in no more than half an hour, as well as letting more than 20 workers to ride in the vehicle all at once, and sometimes four persons ride in the rear trunk together.

Palestinian Ministry of Labor: Work Permits are granted for Free. Undersecretary of the Palestinian Ministry of Labor, Mr. Naser Al Qattami confirmed in a press interview that work permits are granted for free, explaining that they are essentially given with no obligation to buy, but brokers had used them and turned the whole matter into a black trade.

He pointed out that labor offices will undertake following up the workers' rights in Israel. Mr. Qattmi also expressed that starting from the beginning of the next year, the Israeli side promised to apply "Paris Economic Protocol" that will contribute in facilitating the issuance of work permits for the Palestinian labor conducted by labor offices of the Palestinian authority. He added that the new procedures promised to be implemented by the Israeli side and which the National Authority has not been officially notified with them, stipulate on providing the Palestinian labor offices with names of those who wish to work through liaison with the Israeli side, then Israel directly grants the work permits (after conducting the security check) through labor offices without any need for brokers. He also expressed that the new mechanism does not require having the Palestinian worker to obtain an Israeli contractor as he chooses his contractor by himself instead. This can repeal role of brokers and control of Israeli employers laid over workers as it is now. Currently, there are approximately 100 thousand Palestinians who work with permits in Israel and its settlements (29,716 people in settlements, 65,910 in Israel). Israel grants Palestinian young people with work permits provided that they are married and their age is above 22 years.

Coordinator of the Israeli Government for the West Bank and Gaza Strip General Yo'av "Poly" Mordekhai called the Palestinians through social media for non-purchase of work permits from the brokers, whether they were Palestinian or Israeli brokers, because it is an illegal act. He revealed the preparation of new system, under which the Palestinian worker does not have to be registered in the name of the Israeli contractor; but rather he chooses the sector he wants to work in such as construction, or agriculture and his contractor inside Israel as well. Promotion for Issuing Work Permits through "Facebook" A number of pages can be noted through following up the social networking site "Facebook" that promote for purchasing work permits and finding job opportunities inside the occupied territories in 1948 for Palestinians, in exchange of financial amounts determined by the parties under a certain agreement. These pages impose conditions on Palestinians in accordance with legal disclaimer between the employer and workers. Palestine Trade Unions Call for Non-Dealing with Permit Brokers.

Member of the Executive Committee of the General Federation of Trade Unions of Palestine, Mustafa Haneni called upon the Palestinian workers not to deal with permit brokers, or reduce dealing with them. That was due to the large number of Palestinian workers who have to obtain permits to work inside the occupied territories in 1948. He said that the phenomenon of purchasing permits and brokerage ‎exists and widespread, but we as the General Federation of Trade Unions of Palestine do not receive clear complaints ‎regarding that unless one of the workers is exposed to harm, injury, or death, since ‎this type of permits is not covered by the insurance due purchasing them and their illegality as appropriate, through the Palestinian ‎Ministry of Labor which is considered a reference for this purpose.‎ He added that mechanism of permits brokerage is conducted through receiving an amount that reaches ILS 22000 on monthly basis, which equals approx. 600 dollars.

The Palestinian worker pays this amount for purchasing permits in order to work inside Israel. Mr. Haneni indicated that those permits do not maintain any rights for workers, including coverage of injuries, leaves, and fees due to absence of a reference that can issue work permits for the worker, as they are originally purchased in a formal way. He explained that the Palestinian worker resorts to purchase a work permit after Israel refuses to grant him a permission to enter its territories. In fact, he prefers to buy a permit instead of entering through smuggling ways and endangering his life.

Where in case he bought the permit by the help of the broker and did not pay his dues, the permit will be cancelled and a penalty point will be placed on his criminal record in addition to deprivation of entering to Israel. Mr. Haneni explained also that there are some narrations stated by workers looking for a job refereeing that they are finding recommendations from brokers to the Israeli Civil Administration that aim to refuse granting them permits, so the Palestinian worker resorts to the brokers and then be blackmailed by them. He mentioned that there is a dereliction conducted by the Palestinian Ministry of Labor and the concerned Authorities in regard with pursuing those brokers, since most of them are living in the Palestinian lands, expressing that the Israeli Security Services attempt to manipulate with livelihoods of workers, and invite them to work for their account by giving information concerning many issues.

Mr. Haneni said that Palestinian worker is forced by necessity to work inside the Israeli market, under the shade of the economic recession in the Palestinian market and absence of job opportunities, making them preys to brokers who earn hundreds of thousands of shekels through buying those permits. He emphasized that those permits are granted for free and no one is charged for attempting to obtain them. These legal permits allow their owners to follow up the labor issues in case of injury, pointing out that some injured workers were put on the crossings and left to bleed by the Israeli employers. Many cases of work injuries were left on crossings and then treated on their own account or at the expense of the National Authority. Furthermore, he stated that the number of regular workers who work inside Israel and its territories reaches 28 thousand out of 200 thousand workers.

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