Considering the dire economic situation in the Occupied Territories, and the shortage of working hands in the State of Israel, the authorities' policy of issuing permits to Palestinians workers is truly curious, to put it mildly.
A Palestinian interested in working inside Israel cannot apply for a work permit unless an Israeli employer is willing to take him on and apply for a permit on his behalf. How would a Palestinian find an Israeli employer when he is not allowed into Israel in the first place? Moreover, if an Israeli employer who desperately needs working hands wishes to open a file for employing Palestinian workers, he finds himself entangled in a bureaucratic thicket. In fact, the authorities fully intend to prevent the employment of Palestinian workers.
A further obstacle for employers and workers alike is the accumulated hardships encountered in the daily crossing of Israel's entry checkpoints. The time needed for passage can change from day to day and often stretches over hours on end. Long waiting entails the loss of workdays and livelihood. Workers give up, the despair of arriving on time to their workplace, and the employers - tired of frequent tardiness and absence - seek alternatives to the Palestinian workforce.
Workers who have worked for years inside Israel sometimes find themselves suddenly blacklisted by the Israeli Security Services, without any warning or explanation for the sudden prevention. They had worked for years to the full satisfaction of their Israeli employers, who now face a wall. Everything is hidden under the guise of ‘security'. Thousands of Palestinian workers are declared as ‘security-prevented'. If the Palestinian worker does arrive at the designated meeting with the Security Services agents, he often hears the key phrase: "You help us, and we'll help you. If not - you'll never be issued a work permit."
Palestinians whose applications are turned down due to security-prevention may appeal. However, for a very long time now there is no clear address to appeal such refusals. Not only the regulations and procedures are frequently changed, but the authority also keeps shifting as well. If the body handling the appeals has changed, there is no updating. The new authority supposed to handle employers has no idea of its new assignment.
In the twentieth-first century, applicants for government ministries' services can do so via email or fax. Not so at the civil administration. There the applicants need to set an appointment by telephone with an official and report to him in person: and the phone does not answer. Or - "decides" not to answer.
The case of N. represents dozens of workers and employers who have tried to contest their security-refusals in the past nine months.
N. is in his thirties, a father of children. Until mid-July, he held a permit and worked for a firm in Jerusalem. His employer's application to renew the permit was turned down. Explanation: N. was declared GSS (security) prevented.
In early August 2009, the employer appealed to the unit handling permits at the civil administration to reverse the situation.
As no answer arrived, he sent another application two months later, this time with a copy to the head of the civil administration and its legal adviser.
No answer was received. Towards the end of October 2009, an application was sent to the head of the civil administration, noting the names of dozens of workers who had not received any answer to their appeals, including that of N.
Towards the end of October, appeal procedures were changed. The employer sent a form to the new address, this time inside Israel, to the authority designated to issue permits.
As of February 14th 2010, no answer has been received.
N. is merely one of many, and is still one of the fortunates whose employer is interested and committed to make the necessary efforts, and repeat the application process again and again.
Such conduct constitutes a grave violation of human rights. Beginning with the unbearable lightness in which the General Security Services blacklists people without even questioning them, and with the insurmountable difficulties of contesting their new status. The entire process is unreasonable. Is it intended to deter employers from taking on Palestinian workers? Or is it the aim of keeping the Palestinian population in a constant state of uncertainty and economic insecurity, in order to create a pool of potential collaborators?