Know More About Palestine

Saturday Oct. 9, 2010 9:30 AM (EST+7)
OPINION: Israel should respect rights of foreign workers

Read more: foreign workers, internationals, deportation, expulsion, children, woman and child, human rights, civil rights

RAMALLAH, October 9 (JMCC) - In this Global Post op-ed, the authors describe why Israel's supreme court has called the state's treatment of foreign workers a form of slavery.

Under Israeli regulations, migrant domestic, agricultural and industrial workers are “bound” to individual Israeli employers. If a worker’s employment ends for any reason — even if she quits because of abuse or non-payment of wages — her visa is cancelled, leaving her in Israel “illegally” and at risk of deportation.

Even when workers are abused, many cannot afford to quit. Most foreign workers incurred sizable debts to arrange their visas. Israeli law sets legal limits on these fees, but the law is rarely enforced. In reality, most migrant workers pay between $3,000 and $30,000 to agents in their home countries, who then split the fees with Israeli agencies, according to Israeli rights groups.

The majority of Israel’s estimated 200,000 foreign workers entered the country legally, according to rights groups, as Israel has sought to replace the Palestinian work force since the second intifada, or uprising, began in 2000.

As with the “sponsorship” or kifala system of many other Middle Eastern countries, Israeli policies make foreign workers extremely vulnerable to exploitation. In 2006, Israel’s Supreme Court found that the “binding” policy “has created quasi, modern-version slavery” where “the foreign worker had become a serf of this employer,” and gave the government six months to cancel it.

Four years on, it hasn’t.

Read the opinion piece at Global Post...






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