Israeli settlements in the oPt breach the Geneva Convention and are considered to be a war crime under the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Successive UN Security Council resolutions and a 2004 advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have further reiterated their fundamental illegality.
In open defiance of this established consensus within international law, Israel continues to build and expand illegal settlements on expropriated Palestinian lands in the oPt and also plunders Palestinian natural resources such as water, stones and natural minerals. The acceleration of settler-colonialism in the oPt has impeded Palestinian development and forced many Palestinians to work in settlements on land they once owned that has now been turned over to settlers.
This report by Al-Haq provides insight into the inhumane treatment of Palestinians who work in Illegal Israeli settlements, and it illustrates how their fundamental rights are systematically denied and disregarded, including by a dual legal system that privileges Jewish workers and upholds discriminatory working arrangements.
Israeli workers have their own pay-scale and enjoy health insurance and social benefits. Palestinians are paid significantly less, are not entitled to health insurance or social benefits, and are denied basic safety wear, even when they work in dangerous or hazardous conditions and environments. They are often subjected to harassment and physical abuse. They cannot stand up for their rights as they know they will lose their jobs if they raise such issues with their employer/s. Unsurprisingly, the report concludes that “Palestinian labour rights in Israeli settlements are almost non-existent”.
International companies are deeply implicated in these abuses, which clearly undermines their claim that their presence is somehow legitimized by the work and other supposed benefits it produces for the Palestinian workforce. In dismissing this self-serving pretence, the report instead quite correctly indicts them as accomplices in a settler colonial crime. It concludes:
[T]he ugly truth unfolds of international and Israeli companies exploiting a captive Palestinian workforce in a captive economy, in companies operating on unlawfully appropriated Palestinian lands, pillaging the natural resources and subsistence of the Palestinian people, and maintained by a lethal military occupation and apartheid regime under the willful profiting eye of the international community.