Some Palestinians don't like the settlement freeze...
The sad fact is that many Palestinians used to find work in Israel...but Palestinian terrorism changed all that....
Theoretically, the 10-month freeze on building Israeli settlements in the West Bank was supposed to benefit the Palestinian cause.
But at the run-down cafes that make up a town square of sorts here in the Jalazon Refugee Camp, there’s a different story.
It’s just before noon, and the area is full of young men with nowhere to go.
Normally, about half of Jalazon’s able-bodied men are employed in construction in nearby Jewish settlements. But since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under pressure from President Barack Obama, announced the settlement building freeze in October, much of the work has disappeared.
In the long-term, the freeze is meant to help the stagnant Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said he wouldn’t agree to a resumption in peace talks without a building moratorium. But in the short-term, thousands of Palestinians who work in construction across the West Bank are feeling the pinch. They’re annoyed that no one seems to be paying attention to the impact on their lives of what they see as a pointless exercise.
“Work in the settlements has decreased dramatically in the last few months – it’s nothing like it was before. But our lives haven’t changed for the better and the leaders aren’t any closer to peace, so what’s the point?” says Walid Mustafa, a sort of self-appointed spokesman of the unemployed and father of seven who says he’s lucky to find work one day a month. “The settlement freeze is temporary anyway. The Israeli government is made up of settlers, and they will build again soon enough.”
Mr. Mustafa estimates that about 80 percent of camp residents who work in construction are now unemployed, while those still working are taking jobs for 50 shekels a day ($13) rather than the 150 shekels ($40) they used to make.
“The settlement freeze has only brought more poverty,” complains Abdel Aziz Othman.
“There’s no work anywhere,” agrees Issa Muhammed Mahmoud, a young man who spends most days sitting here, chatting and drinking tea for lack of something else to do. “I used to be able to go into Israel to work on sites there, but now they don’t give permits for that, and they’re bringing laborers from China to do it.”