Jonathan Cook in The National:
Over the past four decades Israel has defrauded Palestinians working inside Israel of more than US$2 billion (Dh7.4bn) by deducting from their salaries contributions for welfare benefits to which they were never entitled, Israeli economists revealed this week.
A new report, “State Robbery”, says the “theft” continued even after the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994 and part of the money was supposed to be transferred to a special fund on behalf of the workers.
According to information supplied by Israeli officials, most of the deductions from the workers’ pay were invested in infrastructure projects in the Palestinian territories – a presumed reference to the massive state subsidies accorded to the settlements.
After the recent easing of restrictions on entering Israel under the “economic peace” promised by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, nearly 50,000 Palestinians from the West Bank are working in Israel and continue to have such contributions docked from their pay.
Complicit in the deception, the report adds, is the Histadrut, the Israeli labour federation, which levies a monthly fee on Palestinian workers, even though they are not entitled to membership and are not represented in labour disputes.