A survey covering the inhabitants of the territories who work inside Israel, conducted by the manpower planning section of the Department of Employment, reveals that in 1981 some 76,000 of them were working in Israel. In 1971, the equivalent figure had been 21,000 and in 1975 it had been 66,000. According to the survey, financed by the Defense Ministry through the coordinator of activities in the territories, the inhabitants of the territories constitute about 5.5 percent of workers in Israel.

In recent years, there has been a fall in the proportion of workers from Judea and Samaria in relation to the total. In 1981, over half of all workers from the territories had come from the West Bank, compared to two thirds in 1975. The rest came from the Gaza Strip. The workers are mainly men between the ages of 14 and 34. Most of them are married and heads of households. Half of these were also their family’s sole wage earner. Among the householders, over half had more than seven people in their family. Nearly a third of the workers from the territories had been working in Israel for ten years or more. About 20 percent have worked for the same employer for four years or more.

Many of those employed in Israel are poorly educated: in 1981, nearly 70 percent had up to eight years of schooling, and 16 percent had no formal education. Nevertheless, the proportion of Arabs with nine or more years of education employed in Israel has been rising, while the proportion of totally uneducated workers has been falling. At the time of the survey, about half of those coming to work in Israel from the territories were employed in construction, another 20 percent in industry and some 13 percent in agriculture and elsewhere. This distribution has remained unchanged for several years…. These findings are based exclusively on the number of people from the territories registered as workers at the Labor Exchange and employed legally. The figures make no reference to the thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of people from the territories employed inside Israel illegally.

Ha’aretz, February 21, 1983

Translated from Hebrew by Elfi Pallis

How to cite this article:

"New Data on Palestinian Workers in Israel," Middle East Report 114 (May 1983).

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