Israel's Bilateral Agreements with Source Countries of Migrant Workers: What is Covered, What is Ignored and Why?
53 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2020
Date Written: December 17, 2019
The article explores the variety of matters that bilateral labor agreements (BLAs) could and should regulate for the protection of migrant workers, and then asks what led Israel, in the BLAs that it signed with source countries of migrant workers, to put such emphasis on protecting migrants during their recruitment (and especially to unsure non-payment of excessive recruitment fees) yet show so little concern in protecting them while in Israel and on their way back home. Three distinct theses are presented as possible explanations to this ostensible discrepancy: the care thesis (Israeli civil servants sincerely cared for the special hardships that recruitment fees inflicted on migrant workers on their way to Israel); the pressure thesis (the American State Department and the Israeli Supreme Court compelled Israel to address recruitment fees via BLAs), and the control thesis (Israeli Ministry of Interior realized that excessive recruitment fee payments curtail its power over migrant workers – as Courts are reluctant to confirm deportation of migrants who did not cover the cost of the recruitment fees that they paid – hence acted to eliminate such payments). Based on these three theses, the article also explores what could potentially motivate Israel to expand its future BLAs, in a way that they would not only protect migrants on their way to Israel, but also while they are in the country and on their way back home.
Keywords: labor migration, bilateral labor agreements
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