Integrated or Segregated? Israeli-Palestinian Employment Relations in the Settlements
Marco Allegra, Ariel Handel and Erez Maggor (eds), Normalizing Occupation: The Politics of Everyday Life in the West Bank Settlements, Indiana University Press (2017)
22 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2015 Last revised: 25 May 2017
Date Written: August 22, 2015
There is no shortage of scholarly literature and policy papers documenting, analysing and informing employment relations, and the relevant legal regimes regulating these relations in domestic and regional contexts in Western capitalist societies. The situation, however, is quite different where international conflicts are concerned. In such contexts, the importance attributed to economic relations amongst the civilian population is perceived as secondary, at best, when compared to the centrality of inter-nation, or citizen-nation, affairs. In most cases, this hierarchy is quite justified. But, this paper suggests that where a prolonged occupation is considered, economic relations become incrementally woven into the fabric of the legal structure, in a manner that parallels the domestic situation, but is obviously distinct in important respects. One may even argue that while economic relations are initially governed by the legal structure, and severely inhibited and limited by its parameters, capitalist forces gain ground and increasingly become an important actor, now reversing some of the roles and playing a part in the form and structure of the occupation itself.
There is no better case study to test this hypothesis than the longest standing occupation in the world today – the Israeli control of the occupied Palestinian territories.
Since 1967, and particularly over the past two decades, the Israeli occupation has changed its nature. The number of Jewish settlements and the population that inhabits them have increased several times over. The quantitative changes have had qualitative ramifications. If settlements were once small and remote, in effect sleeping towns, heavily dependent on the Israeli economy, they have grown in size, population and political power, and are now regionally, if not locally, self-sufficient.
The political and economic realities have created increased inter-dependence between Palestinians (especially Palestinian labourers) and Israeli (especially Israeli employers, and Israeli-owned corporations). Here, the legal dynamics are so challenging that they have been addressed by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2008, and by several courts since. Arguably, this dependence is starting to replicate the reliance of Palestinian economy on the Israeli market in the first two decades of the occupation, when 40% of Palestinians were employed in Israel, and outside their local market, a share that had no parallel in the world.
Keywords: occupation, settlements, terms and conditions of employment, choice of law, equality, segregation, annexation
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