Israeli settlement freeze puts hundreds of Arabs out of work

Sunday, November 29, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

The newly announced Israeli settlement freeze is having an adverse affect that its protagonists in Washington probably didn't bother to consider - it is leaving hundreds and perhaps thousands of Palestinian Arabs without jobs.

Unemployment in Palestinian-ruled areas is already sky high, and international peace brokers insist that one of the keys to forging a lasting peace agreement is improving the quality of life of average Palestinians.

Most unskilled laborers in Palestinian society rely on Israeli construction for employment. By demanding a halt to Israeli construction, the international community believes it is solving one problem one the road to peace, but is simultaneously exacerbating the problem of Palestinian poverty, which is so often held up as the reason for Palestinian violence, which is a far bigger hindrance to peace.

Many Israelis are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the settlement freeze, too. Developers have already bought numerous plots of land in Judea and Samaria, and engineers, architects, contractors and carpenters are counting on those projects going forward. But in accordance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement last week, any project for which the foundations have not already been laid is now frozen for at least 10 months.

The Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are the fastest growing in Israel, meaning that a disproportionate percentage of construction takes place there. Halting that construction will have a major impact on the Israeli construction industry and all those who rely on it.

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