RAMALLAH, April 22 (JMCC) - The number of Palestinian laborers working in Israeli settlements
has decreased by approximately 20 percent in recent months, a Palestinian cabinet minister said Wednesday.
The number of workers in the settlements has decreased by 7,000 in recent months due to the government's policy of boycotting settlement products, said Palestinian labor minister Ahmed Majdalani. He said that the government's push to boycott products made in settlements have forced investors in settlements to abandon their investments.
Majdalani was speaking at a question-and-answer session sponsored by the government press office.
He said that a government campaign to boycott settlement products launched earlier this year had born fruit, and that Palestinians were well on their way to implementing the government's goal of ending all employment in Israeli settlements in two years.
The Palestinian Authority
has developed a plan for employment alternatives by promoting the scale of foreign investment, on one hand, and setting up a 'dignity fund' on the other hand that aids domestic investors in setting up projects reasonably expected to end labor in settlements, said Majdalani.
The government's plan has three stages, and includes the opening of new industrial zones in Jenin
, expected to employ 12,000 Palestinian workers.
Official Palestinian statistics put the number of Palestinian workers in Jewish settlements at approximately 35,000 before the sharp decline.
Israel says it grants military permits to 22,000 Palestinians to work in approximately 150 settlements in the West Bank
, occupied by Israel
in 1967. It is believed that as many as half this number work in Israeli settlements illegally, without the required Israeli permits.
Currently, Israeli settlements supply half a billion dollars in goods to Palestinians annually.
International law makes it illegal for an occupying power to transfer people into the territories under its control.