Palestinians defy leaders’ health crisis ban on work in settlements
RAMAT GIVAT ZEEV, West Bank: Palestinians on Thursday defied their government’s call to cease work in Israeli settlements over coronavirus concerns, saying bringing money home to their families came first.
More than 500 cases of infection have been confirmed in Israel, and nearly 50 in the occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) exercises limited self-rule.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh asked the some 25,000 Palestinians who work in settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank - areas Israel captured in a 1967 war - to stay home from Thursday as part of efforts to reduce transmission.
But in the West Bank settlement of Ramat Givat Zeev, Palestinian day laborers dismissed the PA’s order and shrugged off virus fears.
“You have to adapt, put yourself in a bit of danger so you can provide food for your children,” said Omar Hamad, a construction supervisor from Ramallah. “We have rent, we have expenses, we have lots of things.”
The wrangling sheds a light on how workers in the interwoven Israeli and Palestinian economies might push back on coronavirus restrictions that could threaten their jobs and income.
Palestinian laborers earn relatively higher incomes in Israel, where some 100,000 work, and in the settlements than in Palestinian cities.
Their salaries made up 14% of the Palestinians’ $18 billion gross national income in 2018, according to Raja Khalidi, director general of the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute. – Reuters