April 1996, Volume 2, Number 2
Isreal Replaces Palestines
After a three-week ban on Palestinians entering Israel due to a
series of suicide bombings, the government announced on March 24,
1996 that it was easing its closure of the West Bank and Gaza.
Only Palestinians working in Jewish settlements in the territories
will be able to return to their jobs. Most Palestinians will continue
to be indefinitely barred from their jobs in Israel.
During the periodic bans on Palestinian workers over the past
year, Thai, Romanian and Chinese workers were brought in to work in
the fields and construction sites throughout Israel. More than 60,000
Palestinians are authorized to work in Israel, and about 40,000 more
work in Israel illegally.
In mid-March, 1996, the Israeli government approved the admission
of 16,500 new foreign workers to replace the banned Palestinian
workers, bringing the total to 90,000 legal workers and another
50,000 to 100,000 illegal foreign workers.
On March 19, the first of the new foreign workers were flown in
from Thailand. The 238 farm laborers will pick oranges, vegetables
With nearly one in ten worker a non-Israeli, the country's labor
minister warned that if the number of foreign workers continues to
increase, Israel will experience some of the same problems facing
western Europe. Some foreign workers in Israel live in poor
conditions, often without water or adequate sanitation. The city of
Raanana, north of Tel Aviv, issued a ban in March on renting housing
to foreign workers.
Most foreign workers are recruited in their home countries by
Israeli intermediaries and are paid less than the legal minimum
wage--about $600 per month compared with $1,500 per month. Most
foreigners have one-year work contracts.
The West Bank and Gaza depend on the Israeli economy for jobs and
sales--Israel puts the daily dependence at $2 million per day, the
Palestinians at $3 million per day in wages and jobs, and another $6
million in indirect sales that result from the expenditure of wages
earned in Israel.
Youssef Kassem, "Palestinians seek end to Israeli economic
hegemony," Reuters, March 25, 1996. Mary Curtius, "Israel Eases
Closure of Palestinian Territories," Los Angeles Times, March 25,
1996. "Israel's foreign workers remit $470m," UPI, March 27, 1996.
"Thai workers in Israel to replace Palestinians," Reuters, March 19,
1996. "Thais arrive to replace banned Palestinians on Israeli farms,"
Agence France Presse, March 19, 1996. Jean-Luc Renaudie, "Immigrants
replace banned Palestinians, create new problem," Agence France
Presse, March 19, 1996.