Israel labour laws apply to Palestinian workers

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel's highest court ruled on Wednesday that the country's labour laws must apply to thousands of Palestinians who work for Israeli bosses but who were previously subject to discrimination.

Nine supreme court judges accepted a petition from Palestinian workers in the West Bank who linked up with Israel's main Histadrut trade union, after their complaint of discrimination was rejected by the national labour court.

"Applying foreign law on the Palestinian workers as opposed to applying Israeli law on the Israeli workers violates the Palestinian workers' basic rights and subjects them to discrimination," said the supreme court.

The verdict, as quoted in the local media, alluded to Palestinian workers not being entitled to the same layoff compensation, minimum wage and healthcare cover as stipulated under Israeli law and as enjoyed by Israeli colleagues.

Captain Tzidki Maman, a spokesman for the military administration in the occupied West Bank, said around 23,000 Palestinians in the territory work in Israel every day with another 9,200 working in Jewish settlements.

In addition, around 10,000 Palestinian traders from the West Bank are allowed to travel every day into Israel, he added.

Israel imposes a total closure on the Gaza Strip, from which it withdrew all troops and Jewish settlers in 2005, and has declared the territory now run by radical Islamist movement Hamas to be a "hostile entity".

Before the second Palestinian uprising broke out in September 2000, around 25,000 workers from the Gaza Strip used to work in Israel every day.