Palestine: Country profile 2013 - 2018

This country profile summarizes the findings of the Social Rights Monitor carried out in Palestine between 2013 and 2018. The Social Rights Monitor is a tool developed by SOLIDAR members and partners to allow partner organizations and allies based in the country to assess the situations in terms of social protection, decent work and an enabling environment and track the progress made since the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the partnership priorities established with the EU. Most of the reports have been developed in the framework of a regional programme “Mobilizing for Social Justice: Decent Work, Social Protection and Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa region” led by SOLIDAR.

Respondents to the SRM tool acknowledge the role of EU, as the biggest donor, supporting Palestinian people. Yet their expectations go beyond financial assistance to a strong political will to support the Palestinian people’s rights and the end of Israeli occupation, particularly when discussed at UN bodies. They envisage a partnership with a genuine engagement with civil society, ensuring a transparent, participatory and inclusive approach when the priorities are discussed and agreed upon. They recommend that the priorities for EU cooperation in Palestine are built upon the real needs of the stakeholders through a bottom–up approach and including cross-cutting issues such as women’s and People with Disabilitys’ rights.

There is yet improvement to be made in some sectors indeed. On the one side, the Civicus Monitor, which assesses civil society space in the world, rates Palestine as repressed (4/5), insisting on the fact that both Palestinian and Israeli policies participate in shrinking space for civil society. On the other side, the 2018 ITUC Global Rights Index rates Palestine 5+/5, which means that labour rights are not guaranteed due to law’s breakdown. The end of Israeli occupation, the promotion of strong and independent CSOs and greater effort to implement social protection mechanisms are necessary for Palestinians to enjoy their economic and social rights.

 

In light of it, our recommendations towards the EU and its European Neighborhood Policy are to:

  • Adopt a strong stance against the Israeli occupation which is the primary driver of poverty
  • Promote universal social protection
  • Advocate for strong and independent CSOs and Trade Unions to ensure the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms

 

SOCIAL RIGHTS MONITOR – SUMMARY

 

2013

SOLIDAR invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to provide feedback on the 2013 Progress Report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and to comment against six benchmarks which include (1) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (2) Freedom of expression and information; (3) Democratic transition and civil dialogue; (4) Respect for labour rights and decent work; (5) Access and coverage of quality services; (6) Ensuring income support.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Lack of social insurance and social security law
  • Cross-sectoral social protection plan not coherent with civil society needs
  • CSOs providing essential services are not included in policy-making

Decent Work

  • Lack of coherent policies due to Israeli occupation and political rifts
  • Economic opportunities limited due to the restriction of movements
  • Child labour
  • Gender pay gap

Freedom of Association

  • Principle of trade union pluralism not respected
  • Example of unions which are requested to affiliate to Islamic Trade Union Federation
  • Dissolution of Hamas affiliated organizations in the West Bank
  • Protests forbidden in Gaza
  • Closing of NGOs in Jersualem by Israeli authorities
  • Labour Voice Broadcast attacked by Hamas

 

2014

SOLIDAR invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to provide feedback on the 2014 Progress Report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and to comment against six benchmarks which include (1) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (2) Freedom of expression and information; (3) Democratic transition and civil dialogue; (4) Respect for labour rights and decent work; (5) Access and coverage of quality services; (6) Ensuring income support.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Discriminations to right to education in East Jerusalem due to staff and classrooms shortage
  • Scattered social protection system with no adequate income security and health care access 
  • No employment injury, healthcare, unemployment, or maternity benefits 
  • Social protection only available for a small portion of public sector
  • 60% of Palestinians are employed informally

Decent Work

  • 20% gender pay gap
  • 24.5% of employees in the private sector are under minimun wage
  • Minimum wage not applied in Gaza
  • Child labour
  • No protection against abusive employment practices for those working in Israel or Israeli settlements without a permit

Freedom of Association

  • Union Law against international standards on Freedom of Association
  • Deterioration of right to peaceful assembly in the West Bank and Gaza
  • Arbitrary arrest by Palestinian and Israeli security forces
  • Some improvements in civil society consultation with EU Delegations

 

2015

SOLIDAR, the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), and the Euromed Non-Governmental Platform invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to comment the 2015 Progress Report developed by the EU on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The purpose is to see how the ENP, and its related programming documents, include (or not) the promotion of social protection for all or any of the following benchmarks and indicators: (1) Improving equitable access to essential services; (2) Ensuring Income security; (3) Promoting a Rights Based Approach to Social Protection; (4) Freedom of association; (5) Financing Social Protection.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Difficult access to livelihoods and health and education infrastructures because of Israeli occupation in the West Bank, operation in Gaza, and demolitions in East Jerusalem and Area C
  • No law on education, high university fees and VET, which do not match with economic needs
  • No unemployment benefits 
  • Social assistance payment insufficient to ensure decent standard of living
  • People with disabilities (PWDs) not targeted by social protection policies
  • Increase number of PWDs due to the conflict
  • Increased economic and social precarity in Gaza due to the conflict
  • Social assistance payment co-financed by the PA, EU and the World Bank for 11,000 families
  • 119,000 families benefitting from cash and in-kind assistance

Decent Work

  • Labour market marginalization of women, youths and PWDs
  • 20% of workers paid under the minimum wage
  • Minimum wage not applied in Gaza
  • Collective bargaining agreements not available to a third of Palestinians working in Israel
  • Workers without permit exposed to precarious and exploitative working conditions
  • Palestinians minors working in agricultural industry in Israeli settlements
  • 45% of unemployment in Gaza

Freedom of Association

  • Freedom of association under pressure with de facto authorities posing obstacles to CSOs activities
  • License needed to organize a public event
  • Gaza union law restricts workers’ freedom of association
  • West Bank Public sector employees deprived from representation (Union of Public Employees banned)
  • Strikes restrictions in both public and private sectors
  • Unlawful killings and arbitrary arrest of protesters by Israeli forces

 

2018

Consultations with civil society organizations, including SOLIDAR members and project partners, have been conducted within the seven countries covered by the project ‘Decent Work, Social Protection and Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa: Mobilizing for Social Justice by strengthening and promoting CSOs, social movements and independent trade unions’ role in reforms and democratic changes’. Qualitative feedback was collected on the basis of a questionnaire, the so-called ‘Social Rights Monitor’, offering room for civil society organizations and independent trade unions to explain and provide input along three dimensions, namely social protection, decent work and freedom of association. It includes the following indicators: (1) Access to essential services in particular health care; (2) Income security; (3) Poverty reduction and opportunities; (4) labour rights and working conditions; (5) Employment; (6) Social dialogue; (7) Civil society space; (8) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (9) Freedom of expression; opinion; and rights to information.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • 1.5M euros programme for the improvement of the social protection system
  • Social benefits such as paid vacations, sick leaves, maternity leaves or work injuries insurance only available to less than 30% of Palestinians
  • Lack of access to essential services or poor quality
  • Right to health impeded by lack of freedom of movement
  • Health insurance coverage fragmented between workers
  • No comprehensive private health insurance
  • Poor quality and insufficient aids and material for PWDs
  • Income security in public sector but insufficient pensions
  • Poverty reduction thanks to cash transfer programmes despite insufficient amounts
  • 59.9% of workers are in the informal sector
  • Lack of access to safe drinking water in Gaza

Decent Work

  • 43.6% of unemployment in Gaza
  • 18.1% of unemployment in the West Bank
  • Labour marginalization of women, PWDs and youth
  • Palestinian economy challenged by Israeli occupation
  • Government relying on foreign aids
  • 17.9% of workers in the West Bank are under minimum wage
  • Wage system fragmented and discriminatory
  • Poorer labour conditions in Gaza
  • Insufficient resources for an effective labour policy implementation

Freedom of Association

  • Collective bargaining limited to a few sectors
  • Civil society space limited in light of Israeli Occupation
  • Increased regulations for CSO exercise
  • Intimidation and arbitrary arrest of unionists and workers’ activists
  • Violent repression of peaceful Palestinian demonstrations by Israeli army
  • Punctual denial of demonstration permission by Palestinian Authority

 

Useful links:

Ec disclaimer 01

Related content