The UN’s New Blacklist of Israeli Businesses Threatens Palestinians Most of All

February 18, 2020 | Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
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Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council publicized a database of 112 companies—94 of which are based in Israel—that do business in “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory [sic], including East Jerusalem.” This list, three years in the making, evidently serves as a guide for those wishing, or promoting, a boycott of the Jewish state. As Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik explain in a detailed report, such a boycott would above all hurt Palestinians:

[A]ccording to Palestinian workers, Palestinian lawyers, and the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, Palestinians enjoy better working conditions and prefer working for Israeli employers—including in Israeli settlements beyond the Green Line—rather than working for Palestinian employers. For example, wages are four-times higher with Israeli employers than with Palestinian employers, and Palestinian workers receive the same health benefits, sick leave, and vacation time as their Israeli coworkers.

By trying to harm Israeli companies that have “activities” in the West Bank, the UN is also harming the many Palestinians who work for these businesses and who enjoy the better conditions offered by these Israeli enterprises. If the UN’s new . . . efforts lead to a larger boycott of these businesses, eventually they may have to let go of employees, among them Palestinians. Furthermore, it is likely that the Palestinian Authority (PA) will put pressure on Palestinians who work for the blacklisted businesses to leave their jobs.

The Israeli Arab labor lawyer Khaled Dukhi, who works with the Israeli NGO Workers’ Hotline, says that Israeli labor law is “very good” because it does not differentiate between men and women, Israelis and Palestinians, or Muslims and Jews. However, he explained that Palestinians who work for Israelis still suffer because Palestinian middlemen “steal” a significant part of their salaries, especially those of women.

It should also be noted that the PA itself enjoys the benefits of Palestinians working for Israeli employers. [An estimated] 75 percent of the income tax paid by Palestinians working in Israel is transferred to the PA. In 2017 alone, this provision provided the PA with no less than 135,000,000 shekels [over $39 million].

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