10.26.12, 14:06–For Palestinians, the Israeli military coordination office on the outskirts of Jerusalem is a symbol of Israel’s decades-long control over their lives. Now it has also become an unlikely source of hope for employment.
In response to an economic crisis gripping the West Bank, Israel has increased the number of permits for Palestinians to work in Israel. This has drawn large crowds of desperate men to the gray edifice each morning in chaotic scenes of long lines, frustrated faces and heated arguments as they try to secure a coveted permit.
At a time of double-digit unemployment in the West Bank, Palestinian workers, particularly people working in manual jobs like furniture moving, gardening and maintenance work, have few other options.
“It’s a dream to get a permit and work in Israel,” said Kayed Ashkar, 45, who is unemployed and a frequent visitor to the Israeli Civil Administration office. “I used to work there. I used to earn enough money for my family,” said the former waiter, whose wife’s modest salary in a local wedding hall supports their five children.
Israeli authorities have granted an additional 10,000 permits this year to work in Israel, raising the total number to 40,000. It’s still well below the peak level of 200,000 in the 1990s, but the most since a violent Palestinian uprising erupted in late 2000. The uprising was characterized by suicide bombings and other attacks carried out by West Bank Palestinians, prompting Israel to revoke most permits…Read More>>