Occupational Hazards: Labor Law in the Occupied Territories
73 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2011 Last revised: 15 Apr 2015
Date Written: November 2, 2011
This article provides an analysis and a critique of the law governing the employment relationship between Israeli employers and Palestinian employees in industries operating in the West Bank.
Through an analysis of Israeli jurisprudence it highlights the intersection among different areas of law: choice of law, public international law (in particular the law of occupation), and labor law. The article explores the tensions that this intersection creates: first, between the importance that public international law ascribes to matters of sovereignty and territory, and the latter’s growing marginality in the labor field, which is increasingly becoming transnational; another tension is between the transience underlying the law of occupation and the exceptional duration of Israel’s occupation of the territories, which has led to an economic conundrum not predicted by the framers of the international legal structure, and with which the law of occupation can deal to a very limited extent. Through discussion of these tensions the article brings to the fore challenges to the role of meaning equality in transnational employment relationships, particularly in situations of structured power disparities deriving from political circumstances.
While the challenges explored here are intimately linked to the phenomenon of occupation, the increased swiftness with which private companies worldwide are now able to cross borders and set up enterprises outside their state of origin makes the analysis highly relevant to businesses worldwide.
Keywords: occupation, settlements, terms and conditions of employment, choice of law, equality
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