DON’T INVEST IN ILLEGAL ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS! – Palestinians issue a warning

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Israeli border police officers stand guard as demolition vehicles destroy a man-made reservoir on a Palestinian farm near the West Bank city of Hebron, on 04 October 2011. Reports state that tensions rose as Palestinian homes were destroyed by Israeli authorities for allegedly not having a building license and because the Israeli built concrete 'separation barrier' will cut through their land in Hebron. Two other homes were destroyed for the same reason in the West Bank village of Beit Ola in Hebron. EPA/ABED AL HASHLAMOUN

THE PALESTINIAN Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has warned Israeli and international companies against investing in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying such investment will be in violation of international law.

In a statement published on Tuesday it said that the Israeli Ministry of Tourism has decided to subsidise Israeli investors who want to set up tourism projects and hotels in the occupied West Bank up to 20% of the value of their investments

The Ministry condemned what it referred to as Israel’s ‘colonial and settlement infiltration in all its forms’, considering it ‘null, void and illegal that cannot be whitewashed or legitimised under any pretext, and must be combated and confronted by all available legal means’.

It warned countries, companies and investors against involvement in the Israeli plans in the occupied territories under the cover of tourism since that will be considered a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions, stressing that it will pursue any such investment in home courts or at specialised international courts.

The Ministry said these plans intend to gradually eat away at the occupied Palestinian territory, in particular the area classified as ‘C’, under various pretexts, including security, military, economic, settlement and tourism, which demands from the international community to take urgent action to salvage whatever opportunity is left to achieve peace based on the two-state solution.

It called on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to quickly publish the list of companies and institutions operating in the settlements as a deterrent to them and anyone who may think later of joining this illegal settlement activity.

It also called upon the Human Rights Council to intervene quickly in this regard and expedite the publication of the first list of these companies and institutions and to start preparing the second list of these companies violating international law.

On Tuesday, the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem issued two demolition orders against two buildings in Shufat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem under the pretext of construction without a permit, according to local sources.

They said Israeli police and border guards accompanied municipality staff who presented the camp’s popular committee members with the demolition orders against a vocational training centre and an all-purpose hall that was under construction.

The municipality said the two buildings were not licensed even though construction within refugee camps is supervised by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Also on Tuesday, Israeli forces detained seven Palestinians, including a 69-old man and a minor, from various parts of the West Bank, the Palestine Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported.

It said Israeli forces detained four Palestinians, including a 14-year-old minor, from the central West Bank district of Ramallah and al-Bireh.

Israeli military vehicles raided Kufr Nimeh village, west of Ramallah, where soldiers detained three Palestinians, including a former prisoner and the minor.

Soldiers deployed at the entrance of the village destroyed a memorial erected in commemoration of Yousef al-Deek and Amir Anqawi, both of whom were killed by Israeli troops at the entrance to the village on 4th March.

The fourth Palestinian was detained at Silwad town, east of Ramallah.

In the northern West Bank, Israeli forces rounded up two Palestinians from Jenin district, including a former prisoner who spent over 15 years in Israeli jails.

Another raid was carried in Qalqiliya district, resulting in the detention of a 69-year-old man identified as Ali Kamel Shawahneh.

Meanwhile, according to a report from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) released yesterday, marking International Labour Day, the unemployment rate in Palestine increased in 2018 to about 31% of the labour force participants compared with about 28% in 2017.

The number of unemployed individuals increased from 377,000 in 2017 to 426,000 in 2018.

The PCBS said the unemployment rate slightly decreased in the West Bank compared to a noticeably high increase in the Gaza Strip, thus bringing up the overall unemployment rate in Palestine in 2018 to 31%.

The unemployment rate was about 18% in the West Bank in 2018 compared with about 19% in 2017, while the unemployment rate was about 52% in Gaza Strip in 2018 compared with 44% in 2017.

Jenin and Bethlehem governorates registered the highest unemployment in the West Bank with a rate of about 21%, followed by Hebron governorate with a rate of about 20%, while the lowest rate in the West Bank was in Qalqiliya governorate with a rate of about 7% followed by Jerusalem Governorate with a rate of 11%.

In the Gaza Strip, Khan Younis governorate registered the highest unemployment rate with about 58%, followed by Deir al-Balah with a rate of about 57%, while the lowest rate was in Gaza governorate with a rate of about 48%.

The highest unemployment rate was recorded among youth 19 to 29 years of age, which reached about 44% (27% in the West Bank  and 69% in the Gaza Strip).

The young graduates are the subgroup most suffering from unemployment with a rate of about 58% (40% in the West Bank and 78% in Gaza Strip).

As for specialisation, the youth graduates who hold associate diploma certificate and above who specialised in Education Science and Teacher Rehabilitation recorded the highest unemployment rate of about 76% followed by the specialisation of Mass Media and Information with a rate of about 69%, while the specialisation in Law recorded the lowest unemployment rate of about 29%.

In addition, 35% of individuals in the age group 15 years and above with disabilities who are participants in the labour force are unemployed.

The number of employed Palestinians was 954,000 (573,000 in the West Bank, 254,000 in the Gaza Strip, and 127,000 in Israel and Israeli settlements).

There are 665,000 wage employees in Palestine, 353,000 of them in the West Bank, 198,000 in the Gaza Strip, 93,000 in Israel, and 21,000 in the Israeli settlements.

The number of wage employees in the private sector reached 350,000, which is about 53% of wage employees, including 245,000 in the West Bank and 105,000 in the Gaza Strip, compared with 30% employed in the public sector.

About 17% of wage employees worked in Israel and Israeli settlements, including about 24% of wage employees from the West Bank working in Israel and Israeli settlements.

The labour force participation rate for individuals aged 15 years and above was 46% in Palestine (72% for males and 21% for females).

The same rate was for the West Bank with a rate of 46% (74% for males and 18% for females), compared to 47% in Gaza Strip (68% for males and 26% for females).

About 25% of wage employees work as professionals or technicians in Palestine; with a rate of 15% for males and 70% for females.

In addition, 18% of wage employees in Palestine work in craft and related trades at a rate of 21% for males and 2% for females.

The average daily real wage in the private sector in Palestine was about 70 Israeli shekels ($1 equivalent 3.60 Israeli shekels) and at about 45 shekels in the Gaza Strip and about 93 shekels in the West Bank, excluding wages for employees in Israel and settlements.

Construction activity in the private sector recorded the highest average daily real wage of about 104 shekels in the West Bank and 42 shekels in the Gaza Strip, followed by the service sector with 103 shekels in the West Bank and 78 shekels in the Gaza Strip.

Agriculture recorded the lowest average daily wage at 73 shekels in the West Bank and 21 shekels in Gaza Strip.

About 33% of wage employees in the private sector receive less than the monthly minimum wage of 1,450 shekels.

In the West Bank, about 13% of wage employees in the private sector received less than the minimum monthly wage, with about 29,400 wage employees with an average wage of 1,076 shekels.

In the Gaza Strip, the percentage of wage employees in the private sector who received less than the minimum monthly wage was 80% with about 75,400 of wage employees receiving an average wage of 671 shekels.

The average actual weekly work hours for wage employees in Palestine was 42 hours; 40 hours for wage employees in the public sector, and 43 weekly hours for wage employees in the private sector.

About two-thirds of employed persons in Palestine are classified as informal employment, and about one quarter of private sector wage employees receive benefits.

About 65% of employed persons in Palestine are classified as having informal employment, with 70% in the West Bank and 50% in Gaza Strip.

About 25% of private sector wage employees receive benefits (pension funding/end of service benefits, paid annual leave and paid sick leave), while 43% of employed women received paid maternity leave.

In addition, 27% of wage employees in the private sector have valid work contracts, and 20% of wage employees are affiliated to trade or vocational unions in Palestine.