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Palestinian Authority Residents Complain Over Foreign Workers

Bethlehem workers are up in arms over an invasion of foreign workers taking good jobs they feel belong to them.
By David Lev
First Publish: 1/19/2014, 5:41 PM

Bethlehem
Bethlehem
AFP file

Workers in Israel and the Palestinian Authority now have something in common – complaints about foreign workers taking away what are supposed to be their good-paying jobs. According to a Bethlehem lawyer, workers in the city are up in arms over the arrival of a large contingent of Serbian construction workers who are building a project that they feel they should be working on.

The project is being funded by Russia, and Bethlehem residents were told that it was to generate dozens of jobs for construction workers. Because of the inability or unwillingness of the Palestinian Authority to prevent terror attacks against Israel, many PA construction workers who at one time worked in Israel have been unable to get jobs there, as Israel now prevents mass entry of PA workers out of fear that they will be recruited by terror groups to carry out attacks. As a result, most construction workers rely on PA government projects for jobs.

Russia offered to build the project in Bethlehem, partly in order to provide jobs for workers. However, Russia decided instead to supply the workers itself, and shipped in 350 workers from Serbia and Bosnia -Herzogovina.

Unions representing the Bethlehem workers demanded that the jobs be given to their members. However, the PA has not pressured Russia on the matter. According to sources in Bethlehem, the European workers are getting $100 a day in salary and benefits, whereas the average PA construction worker gets $30 a day.