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Settlement workers paid double average wage

April 20, 2011 1:53 P.M. (Updated: April 25, 2011 9:51 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Just one percent more Palestinians worked in settlements in 2010 than the year before, making almost double the wage of their peers in the public and service sectors, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said in a new report released Wednesday.

PCBS research showed that 38.3 percent of the workforce was employed in the service sector, with 19.3 percent in commerce, hotels and restaurants, 14.2 percent in illegal West Bank settlements -- up from 13.9 percent in 2009 -- and 24 percent in the public sector.

Average daily wages for settlement workers were 150 shekels ($44) per day, compared to 76.9 ($22) in the West Bank and 46.2 ($13.50) in Gaza, the latest research showed.

The figures for settlement workers are likely to concern leaders of the Palestinian Authority, who have said they will outlaw all work in Israeli factories across the Green Line by 2012.

President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated Tuesday his intention to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state by September, after peace talks broke down over the issue of West Bank settlement growth.

On Wednesday, Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad said the international community should get ready for a Palestinian state , speaking at a conference of anti-settlement activists near Ramallah.

But settlement leader Yaakov David Ha'ivri called on the Palestinian leadership to admit that the settlements benefit workers, saying workers likely made even more than double the average wage.

"Palestinian workers in our factories are making closer to three times the wages they would be making in the PA. I guess that is the reason that Salam Fayyad's threats to impose a workers boycott never materialized.

"It would be very interesting to see the results of a true open and democratic referendum of the local Arab population" to learn if they would prefer the ban on settlements or continue working in them, he added.

Among other figures released by the PCBS, the unemployment rate in the Tulkarem governorate was the highest in the West Bank, at 22.3 percent, while in Gaza, Khan Younis had the highest at 44.7 percent.

Overall, unemployment in the Gaza Strip fell almost ten percent in 2010, down to 37.8 percent, and continues to fall in the West Bank, hitting 17.2 percent in 2010.

Levels of unemployment remain much higher for women participating in the labor market than men, the report showed, a trend even more marked for women in Gaza.

Overall labor participation declined from 2009, from 41.6 to 41.1 percent.

The lowest unemployment rate was in Tubas at 11.8 percent.

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