Recognition of the state of Palestine and corporate accountability under international law are key to Palestinian workers’ rights

The 29 November is the international day of solidarity with Palestinian people and the ITUC calls on the international community to redouble efforts to achieve a two state solution, based on United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and the pre-1967 borders – with East Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state.

28 November 2020, International Trade Union Confederation

“The illegal settlements and their infrastructure comprise over 60% of the occupied West Bank and take resources that should benefit the people who are under occupation, who are entitled to special protection under international humanitarian law,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

“The ITUC calls on companies and investors to end their complicity in, and with, the illegal settlements.”

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary

“In line with international law and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the ITUC calls on companies and investors to end their complicity in, and with, the illegal settlements.

“The extraction of profits by Israeli and multinational corporations is reliant upon impeding Palestinian economic development, annexation of land and the plunder of Palestinian natural resources. For this we call on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to continue to ensure that the UN database of companies and businesses operating in the illegal settlements is updated and that it has a guarantee of adequate resources to ensure its sustainability,” concluded Sharan Burrow.

The ITUC welcomes the recently announced measures by the Israeli government that will significantly improve the current exploitative permit system for Palestinians seeking work in Israel. The new measures are aimed at overcoming the quota system and establishing direct employment relations between workers and employers, fighting the illicit and lucrative web of labour brokers.

Until now, Palestinians who seek a decent living by working in Israel are discriminated against and face an oppressive permit system that ties them to a particular Israeli employer, in conditions of severe exploitation.

“These reforms are a step forward. It is unacceptable that around 45% of Palestinians working in Israel have had to buy a permit from a broker and lose around 14% of their wages in illegal recruitment fees. These fraudulent brokers make up to US$256 per permit. In total that’s US$119m in illegal profits for labour brokers in 2018 alone. If the new reforms are going to work enforcement will be key,” commented Sharan Burrow.

The ITUC welcomes the reforms as a step towards implementing the International Labour Organization (ILO) general principles and operational guidelines for fair recruitment.

“Millions of dollars are accumulated by the state through deductions from Palestinian wage earners in Israel. It is unacceptable that Israel refrains from transferring these funds as a punitive measure against the Palestinian Authority. In addition, the convoluted application process further prohibits workers from accessing their social benefits,” said Sharan Burrow.

The recognition of the state Palestine and corporate accountability under international law would put an end to these abusive practices and exploitation. The international community has the responsibility to urge governments and companies to respect international law.


The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) represents 200 million members of 332 affiliates in 163 countries and territories.

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Source: ITUC