News / Middle East

Palestinian Ban on Working in Settlements Creates Dilemma for Laborers

Palestinian workers arrive at dawn at the Nilin Israeli checkpoint, between the West Bank and the Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit. (File)
Palestinian workers arrive at dawn at the Nilin Israeli checkpoint, between the West Bank and the Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit. (File)

Multimedia

Audio

Palestinian leaders recently announced a ban prohibiting Palestinian laborers from working on Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The ban has triggered anger and uncertainty among tens of thousands of West Bank Palestinians who depend on high-paying and more plentiful jobs in the settlements.

Listen to Ramirez report:

Also listen to Cecily Hilleary's interview with Arab American columnist George Hishmeh:

It is six in the morning and the sun is starting to rise at a checkpoint in the West Bank next to the Israeli settlement of Modi'in Illit.  Lining up at a fence surrounding the settlement are hundreds of Palestinian men, including 40-year-old Younis Salah from the West Bank town of El-Khader, near Bethlehem.  

Salah lines up here every morning, waiting to cross into the settlement to work his shift as a construction foreman.  His reason for working on the settlement is simple.

He says he works on a settlement because he needs to feed his children.

Salah is one of an estimated 21,000 Palestinian workers whose hands are building new homes in places like Modi'in Illit - Jewish settlements that Palestinian leaders claim are encroaching on West Bank lands, impeding the creation of a Palestinian state, and creating a major sticking point in the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinian leadership has banned working on settlements, saying that any Palestinian who participates in the building of settlements is helping the enemy.    

"It's a process. We're moving very fast toward separation from Israel," said Abdel Hafiz Nofel, deputy economy minister of the Palestinian Authority. "We believe that with the settlers and the settlements, there is no way to live together."

Salah, the construction worker, says that morning after morning, he lives a paradox.

He says this is his ironic fate.  He says the Israelis - in his words - took the land of Palestinians like himself, and he is working on their settlements.  He says that even if he wanted to look for work in Arab countries, Israeli travel restrictions would prevent him from going there.  He says he has no choice but to work on a settlement.

It is the larger earnings and steady work - which are hard to find in the West Bank - that drive Palestinians like Salah to work on the settlements.

Salah estimates his earnings are double what they would be in the West Bank, if he even found a job there.  

His earnings at the settlement enable him to provide his family with a comfortable life. Their home in El-Khader is spacious, clean, and well-furnished.  

The family has just welcomed their latest addition, a newborn daughter.  

They also have a five-year-old daughter who is disabled and gets no benefits from the Palestinian Authority.  Salah is able to pay the full cost of expensive therapy for her.

Salah's wife, Ahlam, says she dreams of a Palestinian state free of Israeli occupation.  But she says she must also face reality.

She says her husband is working on a settlement because there is no alternative.  It is, she says, how he brings food to the table. Ahlam says the family wants to be comfortable, and she wants her children to live with dignity and not be humiliated.

Palestinian leaders say they hope to provide options for workers, but have so far come up with no concrete alternatives for those who will be unemployed as a result of the ban.

Putting tens of thousands of people out of work suddenly is cause for concern for the Palestinian Authority, and officials have said they will delay implementation of the ban for several months.

Younis Salah says it will take more than a command from Palestinian leaders to stop him from going to work at a settlement.

He says he will respect the authority, and he knows the leaders can enforce the ban if they want to.  However, he says the only way they will be able to stop him is by force.

Until then, and in the absence of good job opportunities in the West Bank, the morning ritual of lining up to work on the other side of the fence will continue for Salah and thousands of others.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs