Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Editorial Note: The
following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may
also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology.
Comments are in parentheses.
Palestinian Economy Will Not Grow If
Israeli Restrictions on it Remain, Says ILO
News | 06 June 2013
The ILO’s annual report on the situation of workers of the occupied
Arab territories calls for the lifting of restrictions on movement,
employment and economic activity, in order to increase opportunities for
As the momentum for growth has come to a halt, the fiscal crisis in
Palestine is turning into an economic and social one, the
annual report of the International Labour Organization (ILO) says.
According to the report, the crisis is due to a number of
factors, including the continued failure of donors to meet their
commitments, the decision of Israel
to suspend, at least temporarily, the payment of
clearance revenues, as well as the pace of settlement growth.
“This situation calls for measures by Israel not only to relax the
application of restrictions on people and businesses but to lift them
altogether, thus enabling the Palestinian economy to grow and generate
decent jobs,” ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, says in his preface to
“The continuing occupation and expanding settlement
activity are blocking the Palestinian economy, particularly its private
sector, from significant progress,” he adds. The current situation will
remain unsustainable until it is based on social justice.
the very least, nothing should be done to make the situation worse.
Denying rightful resources to the Palestinian Authority, stepping up the
already unprecedented pace of settlement growth and constraining the
Palestinian economy through restrictions and the weight of the
settlements, will inevitably destroy any belief in the promise of two
states for two peoples,” Ryder says.
Call for action
Instead, the report calls for “action to revive the flagging peace
process and restore economic growth”.
The report stresses that
the situation is untenable and that a status quo does not exist. It
concludes that “any effort to maintain a perceived status quo, in
effect, promotes or at least permits a further dangerous deterioration
of the situation.”
The Palestinian economy is grappling with
stagnating growth, higher unemployment and poverty and food dependency.
The number of unemployed Palestinians rose by 15.3 per cent between 2011
and 2012, with the unemployment rate reaching 23 per cent. The situation
is particularly acute in Gaza, where unemployment has reached 31 per
cent and is almost 50 per cent amongst women.
18.4 per cent of
young Palestinians were neither in the labour force nor in education,
including 31.4 per cent of young women. These bleak indicators point to
a clear need to develop large-scale programmes to support the
school-to-work transition, such as a youth employment guarantee scheme.
Excessive restrictions, which are economically and socially
unproductive, are harming both Palestinian and Israeli business
activities and any prospects for growth led by the private sector.
“Restrictions on movement, employment and economic activity should
be relaxed in a transparent and permanent manner in order to increase
opportunities for decent employment in conditions of equality,” the
In addition, work in settlements remains largely
unregulated and is open to abuse. The State Comptroller and Ombudsman of
Israel had recently criticized the Israeli authorities for slow action
in ensuring the inspection of wages, occupational safety and health, and
social insurance for all settlement workers, including Palestinians.
The ILO’s role
“The ILO can help strengthen the
institutions of governance through social dialogue between government,
employers and workers; assist with the recognition and realization of
the rights of all parties in the labour market; and help develop laws,
policies and programmes to promote full, productive and freely chosen
employment,” reads the report.
It also singles out social
security and the establishment of a social protection floor as emerging
priorities for Palestine.
Finally, it calls for efforts to find
a solution to the continued hardship faced by Syrian citizens in the
occupied Syrian Golan in a manner that respects fundamental principles
and rights at work. The divisions that underlie the conflict in Syria
are also felt by Syrian citizens living under occupation, while their
prospects and livelihoods have not improved.
The findings of the
report are based on a mission that involved in-depth discussions and a
number of field visits in the occupied Arab territories and Israel in
March this year. Since 1980, the Director-General has been mandated to
present an annual report to the International Labour Conference on the
situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories, including the
occupied Syrian Golan.
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