Palestinians Employed in West Bank Settlements Entitled to Israeli Wages and Benefits, Court Rules

Court was faced with decision as West Bank has not been annexed by Israel and Israeli law does not fully apply there.

Palestinians who are employed in industrial zones in West Bank Jewish settlements are entitled to the salaries and fringe benefits provided by Israeli law, the Jerusalem regional labor court ruled last week.

The court was faced with the question as to whether Israeli law applied to the Palestinians even though the West Bank has not been annexed by Israel and Israeli law does not fully apply there. Despite the fact that the plaintiffs in the case are also not Israeli citizens, the labor court ruled that the workers would have the benefit of Israeli law when it comes to minimum employment terms.

The case arose out of a complaint by 10 West Bank Palestinians employed as workers at the Even Bar stone product plant just outside Jerusalem in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone of the settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.

They sued for the difference between the salary they were paid and the minimum wage in Israel as well as for fringe benefits workers in Israel are paid - including holiday and vacation pay and employer pension contributions.

The sums claimed come to tens of thousands of shekels per worker.

Even Bar responded that the workers had been recruited from Palestinian villages and had chosen to remain on the job over an extended period under the employment terms that they were provided.

Their salary conditions, the firm said, should be based on prevailing wage conditions in Palestinian areas of the West Bank, adding that Even Bar had to compete with Palestinian firms in the area.

But labor court Judge Daniel Goldberg said that Ma'aleh Adumim is part of the Israeli economy. "There is a public interest," he ruled, "in requiring Israeli employers operating in the territories to pay their workers salaries and other benefits according to Israeli law."

Lior Mizrahi