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DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


Israel is a parliamentary democracy with a multiparty political 
system and free elections.  There is no constitution, but a 
series of basic laws defines the responsibilities of government 
institutions.  The legislature (The Knesset) can limit the 
government and force its dissolution.  Although Israel has an 
independent judiciary, the Supreme Court, with few exceptions, 
has sided with the Government on policy issues of land and 
security, especially in the occupied territories.  Public 
debate on issues of concern to Israelis is open and lively.  A 
vigorous free press scrutinizes all aspects of Israeli life and 

Since Israel's founding in 1948, it has been in a formal state 
of war with most of its Arab neighbors, except Egypt, with 
which it concluded a peace treaty in 1979.  As a result of the 
1967 war, Israel occupied the areas of the West Bank, the Gaza 
Strip, the eastern sector of Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.  
Throughout its existence as a state, Israel experienced 
numerous terrorist incidents, within and outside its borders. 
Israel has relied heavily on its military and security services 
and has retained many security-related emergency regulations 
from the preindependence British mandate period.

On September 13, Israel and the Palestine Liberation 
Organization (PLO) signed an historic Declaration of Principles 
relating to a transfer of authority from Israel to an interim 
Palestinian authority.  The Declaration lays out a timetable 
for Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank 
city of Jericho, scheduled to be completed in the first quarter 
of 1994.  In addition, the Declaration calls for redeployment 
of Israeli security forces away from populated areas in the 
West Bank as early as July 1994, which is the target date for 
the election of a Palestinian council and for the dissolution 
thereafter of the Israeli military-backed Civilian 
Administration (CIVAD), which has governed daily life in the 
occupied territories since 1981.  Israel is to continue to 
control external security, internal security and public order 

*Because the legal status and the political and human rights 
conditions of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem differ 
sharply from those in Israel, the situation in those 
territories is dealt with in a separate report following the 
report for Israel.

in Israeli settlements, foreign relations, and certain other 
areas until an agreement on permanent status is achieved.

Internal security is the responsibility of the General Security 
Service (Shin Bet), which is under the authority of the Prime 
Minister's office.  The police are under the authority of a 
separate minister.  The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which 
include a significant portion of the Israeli adult population 
in either active duty or reserve status, also play a role in 
maintaining internal security.  The IDF is under the authority 
of a civilian Minister of Defense.  The Knesset Foreign Affairs 
and Defense Committee reviews the activities of the IDF and the 
Shin Bet.

Israel has a developed market economy.  While there is 
substantial government regulation, intervention, and ownership 
in the economy, the Government is moving in the direction of 
reducing state involvement in it.  Israel enjoys a relatively 
high standard of living.

Positive human rights developments, in addition to the 
ramifications of the September signing of the Israeli-PLO 
agreement (see report on the occupied territories), included 
the Knesset's action to eliminate restrictions placed upon 
membership in or contact with the PLO and court decisions that 
limited house demolition orders and expanded prisoner rights.  
Israeli citizens enjoy a wide range of civil and other rights.  
Israel's main human rights problems arise from its policies and 
practices in the occupied territories.  In addition, while the 
Government's declared intention has been to close the social 
and economic gap between the Arab and Jewish sectors of the 
population within Israel, Israel's Arab citizens still do not 
share fully in the rights granted to, and the levies imposed 
on, Jewish citizens.  However, in 1993 the Government began 
seriously to address imbalances in resource allocations to the 
Arab sector, especially in education and infrastructure 


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Political killings in Israel are neither practiced nor 
sanctioned by Israeli authorities.  In the context of the 
extreme political tension between Israel and the Palestinians, 
intercommunal killings are often assumed to have political 
motivation.  In 1993 authorities ascribed the murders of at 
least 16 Israelis in Israel to Arab nationalist motivations.  
In the wake of several killings and stabbings of Israelis by 
Palestinians from the occupied territories, the Government in 
March imposed a closure on the occupied territories, sealing 
off indefinitely the West Bank and Gaza from Jerusalem and 
Israel.  This action resulted in restrictions on the numbers of 
Palestinians able to work in Israel and travel to Jerusalem.  

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of government-condoned disappearance.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Although Israeli laws and administrative regulations prohibit 
such practices, there are credible reports of abuses of 
Palestinian detainees.  (See the occupied territories report 
for a discussion of mistreatment of prisoners from the occupied 
territories incarcerated in detention facilities located in 

Incarceration facilities in Israel and the occupied territories 
are operated by one of three authorities, the Israeli Prison 
Service (IPS), the national police, and the Israel Defense 
Forces.  Although the conditions vary greatly among the 
facilities, all are monitored by various branches of the 
Israeli Government and members of the Knesset, the 
International Committee of the Red Cross, and many human rights 
organizations which have access to the prisons, police jails, 
and IDF camps.  Generally, inmates are not subject to physical 
abuse by guards, food is adequate, and prisoners receive basic 
necessities.  Security prisoners are subject to a different 
regime, even in IPS facilities, and as a class they are often 
denied certain privileges given to prisoners convicted on 
criminal charges.  In general, however, the most severe problem 
in all facilities is overcrowding, even among facilities run by 
the IPS.

IPS prisons conform to general international standards which 
permit inmates to receive mail, have televisions in their 
cells, and receive regular visits.  Prisoners can receive wages 
for prison work and benefits for good behavior.  Many IPS 
prisons have religious and drug-free wards and educational and 
recreational programs.

Police detention facilities are intended for short stays prior 
to trial, but due to chronic overcrowding and slow scheduling 
for court dates, police detention facilities can become de 
facto jails for several months.  Inmates in these centers 
frequently are not accorded the same rights and living 
conditions as prisoners in the regular IPS facilities, and some 
of these can fall below generally accepted minimum 
international standards.  For example, the Abu Kabir police 
detention facility in Jaffa has approximately 562 inmates for 
466 beds.  Prisoners awaiting transfer can be confined for 
months under these conditions.  One U.S. citizen has been 
confined in a cell with 11 prisoners and 8 beds.  He was unable 
to bathe for over a week.  Violence is common in the Abu Kabir 
facility with weapons made by prisoners from such items as bed 
legs, spoons, and pens.  There were also reports of mixing 
juveniles with adults as well as pretrial offenders with 
convicted prisoners.

Prison conditions in the IDF detention camps, which are limited 
to male Palestinian security prisoners and are guarded by armed 
soldiers, do not meet minimum international standards and 
threaten the health of the inmates.  The camps use unheated 
outdoor tents even in severe weather conditions, mix minors and 
adult prisoners, restrict family visits, and contain minimal 
recreational facilities.  Poor health care in Ketziot prison 
has resulted in a petition, filed before the High Court in 
September by a human rights organization composed of medical 
professionals, to close the camp unless medical conditions are 
improved.  According to the Government, the petition concerning 
Ketziot, due to be heard at the end of the year, was postponed 
to March 1994.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Israeli law and practice prohibit arbitrary arrest or 
imprisonment.  Writs of habeas corpus and other procedural and 
substantive safeguards are available.  Defendants are 
considered innocent until proven guilty.  However, 
administrative detention with no formal charge or trial is 
permitted under a 1979 law.  The Minister of Defense may issue 
a detention order for a maximum of 6 months.  Within 48 hours 
of issuance of such an order, a detainee must be brought before 
a district judge.  The process of review to confirm, shorten, 
or overturn a detention order must be carried out as quickly as 
possible, and, if the order is confirmed, an automatic review 
must take place after 3 months.  Administrative detention 
orders are renewable.  The detainee may be represented by 
counsel and may appeal to the Supreme Court.  The Government 
may withhold evidence from the detainee and counsel on security 
grounds.  According to the Ministry of Justice, no Israeli 
citizens were held in administrative detention in 1993.  Israel 
continued to hold most Palestinian administrative detainees 
from the occupied territories in detention centers inside 
Israel.  The transfer of prisoners from the occupied 
territories to Israel contravenes Article 76 of the Fourth 
Geneva Convention.  (For a full discussion of administrative 
detention, see the separate report on the occupied territories.)

A judge of a district court may, in cases involving a felony, 
permit the postponement of notification of an attorney of the 
arrested person.  This period normally cannot exceed 48 hours.  
It may, however, be extended for a total of 7 days when the
Minister of Defense has certified in writing that national 
security requires the arrest to be kept secret or if the 
Inspector General of Police certifies in writing that secrecy 
is required in the interest of the investigation.  The law also 
allows an extension of up to 15 days in cases involving certain 
security offenses, such as espionage.

The whereabouts of 10 Lebanese detainees is not known, 
according to human rights groups.  The Government of Israel  
acknowledges holding the 10, but the disposition of their 
cases, as well as those of 12 Lebanese prisoners who have 
served their sentences, appears to be linked to Israeli efforts 
to obtain definitive information on the fate of Israeli 
prisoners of war and others missing in action in Lebanon.

Israel does not exile its citizens. (See the separate report on 
the occupied territories for discussion of deportations).

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

There are both civil and military courts in the judicial 
system.  There are also religious courts, labor relations 
courts, and other administrative tribunals.  Although the 
judiciary is independent, the Israeli Supreme Court has, with 
rare exceptions, sided with the Government on policy issues of 
land and security, especially in the occupied territories.  
According to human rights lawyers, in the few instances the 
court has ruled in favor of individuals it has been on 
procedural grounds.  The right to a hearing by an impartial 
tribunal with representation by counsel is guaranteed by law 
and observed in practice.  All nonsecurity trials are open 
except for those in which the interests of parties are deemed 
best served by privacy.  Security cases may be tried before a 
military court or a civil court and may be partly or wholly 
closed to the public.  The Attorney General determines whether 
a security case is tried before a military or civil court.

The prosecution must justify nonpublic proceedings.  Defense 
counsel is present, even during closed proceedings, but may be 
denied access to some evidence on security grounds.  In 
security cases in which access to some evidence is denied, that 
evidence may not be used to convict a defendant.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

Although privacy of the individual and the home are generally 
protected by law within Israel, interference with mail and the 
tapping of telephones are practiced in some cases.  Israeli law 
permits wiretapping by court order in criminal cases; in 
security cases the order must be issued by the Ministry of 
Defense.  Emergency regulations permit mail to be stopped, 
opened, and even destroyed on security grounds.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

(See the separate reports on the occupied territories and 
Lebanon for discussions of excessive use of force.)  

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Although individuals, organizations, the press, and the 
electronic media freely debate a wide range of public issues 
and criticize government officials and policies, emergency 
regulations authorize censorship and outlaw statements and 
written materials that express or encourage support for illegal 
organizations.  Publications and domestic or foreign press 
articles dealing with security-related matters must be 
submitted to the military censor.  Arabic-language publications 
and press are censored more strictly than Hebrew-language 
equivalents.  In 1993 the Supreme Court rescinded a closure 
order against the Arabic-language newspaper With the People.  
The newspaper had been closed because its editor was the former 
editor of another publication that had been closed for inciting 
its readers to action against the State and the IDF.  No other 
Arabic-language newspapers were closed in 1993.

The Government occasionally initiates prosecution for 
statements or writings on behalf of terrorist organizations; 
such action is almost always directed against Israeli Arabs.  
The Government asserts that at various times it has prosecuted 
Jewish individuals and groups for inflammatory statements and 
writings.  No cases were filed against Jews in 1993, but 
investigations into statements made by members of the Kach and 
Kahane Chai, ultranationalist extremist organizations, are 
currently under way.  In 1992 the poet Shafiq Habib received a 
suspended sentence carrying a stipulation that he not engage 
again in the type of activity of which he was accused and a 
3-year probationary period as well as a fine for violating the 
1949 Antiterror Act which bans the publication of statements 
praising, supporting, or encouraging any acts of violence that 
could lead to personal injury or death.  Habib had published 
poems in 1990 which, according to government officials, praised 
the revolutionary aspect of the Intifada.  In 1993 Habib was 
acquitted of these charges by a district court on appeal, and 
the High Court has refused to review the case.

All newspapers are privately owned and managed.  Newspaper
licenses are valid only for Israel; to distribute publications 
inside the occupied territories, separate licenses are 
required.  The quasi-independent Israel Broadcast Authority, 
whose director is appointed by the Government, retains 
significant control over electronic media.  There are now six 
cable companies operating in Israel under franchises granted by 
cable councils whose members are appointed by the Government.  
Three companies were awarded franchises in 1993 to start a 
second television channel which has brought commercial 
television to Israel for the first time.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law and court rulings protect the rights of Israelis to 
assemble and associate.  In 1993 the Knesset repealed the 1986 
amendment to the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance under which 
Israelis were prohibited from membership in, or contact with, 
outlawed organizations, primarily the Palestine Liberation 
Organization, its subdivisions, or its individual members.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Israeli law provides strong guarantees of freedom for all 
faiths.  Approximately 82 percent of Israeli citizens are 
Jewish.  Muslims, Christians, and Druze, and members of other 
minority religions make up the remaining 18 percent.  Each 
recognized religious community in Israel has legal authority 
over its members in matters of marriage and divorce.  Secular 
courts have primacy over questions of inheritance, but parties, 
by mutual agreement, may bring the case to religious courts.  
Orthodox religious authorities have exclusive control over 
marriage, divorce, and burial in all sectors of the Jewish 
community, whether or not they are Orthodox.

Missionaries are allowed to work in Israel.  According to the 
Justice Ministry, the Government has not applied a 1977 
antiproselytizing law, prohibiting the offering and receipt of 
material benefits as an inducement to conversion, against any 
individuals or organizations for several years.

Travel to visit religious sites or perform religious 
obligations in and outside Israeli is widely permitted.  (See 
separate report on the occupied territories on denial of rights 
of Muslim and Christian Palestinians to worship at holy 
places.)  In 1993 Israel approved the pilgrimage to Mecca (for 
both the hajj and the umra) of over 4,000 Israeli Muslims.  
However, for security reasons, the Government forbids 
participation in the hajj by males under 30 years of age.  The 
Government asserts that travel to Saudi Arabia, a country 
formally still in a state of war with Israel, is a privilege 
and not a right for Israeli Muslims.  In 1993 the Government 
welcomed the visit of 192 Libyan pilgrims to Muslim holy sites 
in Jerusalem.  

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Israeli citizens may move freely within Israel except in 
military or security zones or in cases where they may be 
confined to their neighborhood or village by administrative 
order under emergency regulations.  Israeli citizens are free 
to travel abroad and to emigrate, provided they have no 
outstanding military obligations or are not restricted by 
administrative order.

Israel welcomes Jewish immigrants and family members, including 
Jewish refugees, to whom it gives automatic citizenship and 
residence rights under the Law of Return.  It accepts the 
return of Jewish Israeli citizens who have emigrated.  The Law 
of Return does not apply to Israeli Arabs or to persons of 
Jewish descent who have converted to another faith.  Under the 
principle of family reunification, Israel has allowed the 
return of a few Arab refugees who fled Israel in 1948-1949 (the 
Government claims that 100,000 Arabs were allowed to return to 
Israel after the 1949 armistice agreement) but has rejected the 
great majority of requests by such refugees to return.  Israel 
offered temporary haven to 100 Bosnian Muslims, victims of the 
civil strife in their country.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Israeli citizens have the right and ability to change their 
government peacefully.  Israel is a parliamentary democracy, 
with a multitude of parties representing a wide range of 
political views.  Relatively small parties, including those 
whose primary support is among Israeli Arabs, regularly win 
seats in the Knesset.  All adult Israeli citizens have the 
right to participate in the political process and to vote by 
secret ballot.  According to official figures, 77.4 percent of 
Israeli citizens over the age of 18 voted in the 1992 
parliamentary elections.

Two women serve as Cabinet ministers, and there are 11 women in 
the Knesset.  Two Arab Israelis serve as deputy ministers in 
the current Cabinet.  There are 6 Arab members (and 2 Druze 
members) in the 120-member Knesset. 

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Private Israeli organizations are active in publicizing and 
litigating human rights issues and cases.  Israel is generally 
responsive to international and nongovernmental interest in its 
human rights situation and treats seriously responsible 
challenges to its human rights practices.

Human rights groups may litigate general questions of law or go 
before the courts on clients' behalf.  Israel permits regular 
visits by a wide range of private and international 
organizations concerned with human rights such as Amnesty 
International (AI), Middle East Watch, the Lawyers Committee 
for Human Rights, the International Labor Organization (ILO), 
and others.  It hosts and works with a delegation of the 
International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC).

The Justice Ministry has a human rights office which responds 
to human rights inquiries, and the Government has designated 
specific points of contact within the Ministries of Defense and 
Foreign Affairs to prepare responses to human rights inquiries 
from foreign governments, international bodies, and human 
rights organizations.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Equal Opportunity Employment Law prohibits discrimination 
on the basis of sex, marital status, or sexual orientation.  
The Labor Exchange Law prohibits discrimination on the basis of 
race, religion, political beliefs, and age.  A general law 
prohibits government bodies from practicing discrimination on 
any of these grounds.    


The Equal Opportunity Law requires employers to pay male and 
female workers equal wages for equal work.  In 1993 a new law 
was passed that prohibited discrimination in unemployment 
compensation benefits paid to elderly female citizens.  
However, women's advocacy groups, which are very active in 
Israel, report that women routinely receive lower wages, are 
promoted less often, and benefit from fewer career 
opportunities than male counterparts.

Domination of personal status law by religious courts means 
that women are subject to restrictive interpretations of their 
rights in such crucial areas as marriage and divorce.  In 1993 
common law spouses were entitled to take the family names of 
their partners, helping to mitigate problems faced by unmarried 
couples.  In 1993 women's groups stepped up their protest of 
the rabbinical authorities' refusal to require husbands to 
grant divorces to a number of women claiming marital abuse or 

Women are drafted into the IDF but do not serve in combat 

The Government asserts it condemns violence against women, and 
the subject is being dealt with on an ongoing basis.  The 
courts in Israel deal with persons convicted of violence, 
including violence against women.  In 1991 the Government 
passed the Law for the Prevention of Family Violence, which 
allows legal authorities to act expeditiously to ban violent 
family members' access to property.  In the last 2 years, 
enforcement of the law has improved markedly as women's groups 
cooperate with legal and social service institutions to educate 
primarily women about their rights under this law.  Women's 
groups and the Government have collaborated on opening seven 
shelters for battered women, while the women's movement Na'amat 
operates four counseling centers for battered women.  Women's 
groups also lobby for higher conviction rates and harsher 
sentences for men accused of perpetrating violent acts, 
including rape, against women.  Government and advocacy groups 
estimate that at least 10 percent of Israeli women over the age 
of 15 are liable to experience violent attacks.


The Government has a strong commitment to the rights and 
welfare of children.  While there is no pattern of societal 
abuse against children, the Government has legislated against 
sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of children and has 
mandated comprehensive reporting requirements to assure close 
attention to the issue.  Prostitution involving 
children--mostly adolescents--has been reported in isolated 
cases and has been promptly dealt with by appropriate 
authorities.  A combination of police and educational and social
welfare officials are charged with monitoring cases of abuse 
and administering government programs to treat the victims.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Israeli Arabs, who constitute 18 percent of the population, are 
not provided with the same quality of education, housing, 
employment, and social services as Israeli Jews.  For security 
reasons, Israeli Arabs are not allowed to work in companies 
with defense contracts or in security-related fields.  In 1993 
the Government moved to redress inequities in resource 
allocations to Arab sectors but acknowledges that gaps remain 
in a number of areas, including education, health, 
infrastructure development, and public sector employment.  The 
Sheves Plan, adopted in 1993, for the first time recognized 
Arab municipalities as developmental areas, entitling them to 
government benefits.  The new policy now recognizes the 
geographical, rather than the ethnic, basis of an area as the 
main determinant of eligibility for priority government funding.

Relative to their numbers, Israeli Arabs are underrepresented 
in the student bodies and faculties of most universities and in 
higher level professional and business ranks.  The 
Arabic-speaking community has access to local and foreign 
Arabic press, publications, and media.  The Israeli Druze and 
Circassian communities, at their initiative, are subject to 
Israel's military draft, and some Bedouin and other Arabs serve 
voluntarily.  Other than Druze and Muslim but non-Arab 
Circassians, Israeli Arabs are not subject to the draft.  
Consequently, they have less access than do other Israelis to a 
variety of social and economic benefits for which military 
service is a prerequisite or an advantage, including housing 
and new-household subsidies and government or security-related 
industrial employment.  The Government has decided to award 
national insurance equally to veterans of the IDF and those who 
have not served in the army.  The Government has also 
determined that, within a 3-year period starting in 1994, it 
will bring social security child bonus allowances for parents 
who have not served in the army in line with those for parents 
who have.  The Government asserts that it maintains an open 
door policy with respect to Israeli Arabs who volunteer for 
military service and that hundreds of Muslim and Christian 
Arabs are voluntarily inducted into the IDF and serve in 
various units, including the infantry, armored corps, and 
paratroopers.  Parts of the Israeli Arab community have 
objected to the idea of alternative national service.

The problem of the legal status of unrecognized Arab villages 
remained unresolved in 1993.  The Government promised to study 
the situation of the villages but offered no solutions.  
Residents of the village of Ramyah (see the 1991 and 1992 
country reports) continued to negotiate the future of their 
village after the Government stayed an order of eviction 
against them in 1992.  A private member's bill before the 
Knesset proposing that the pre-1948 residents of the villages 
of Bir Am and Ikrit or their descendants be permitted to 
rebuild their houses there has passed a first reading and has 
now been referred to a Knesset committee for preparation of the 
law for its second and third readings.

     Religious Minorities

In general the Government respects freedom of religion and 
protects the rights of citizens of all creeds to worship 
freely.  In those civic areas where religion is a determinant 
criterion--primarily religious courts and religious centers of 
education--non-Jewish institutions routinely receive less state 
support than Jewish counterparts.  Immigration to Israel is 
significantly easier for those who are Jewish than for 
non-Jews.  The Government generally respects and protects 
non-Jewish religious sites.  Muslim organizations continue to 
demand that cemeteries and an unused mosque in Beersheba be 
protected.  In 1993 the Government allowed Libyan pilgrims to 
visit Jerusalem and encouraged the attendance of Syrian and 
Lebanese Druze at the funeral of the sect's religious leader in 
northern Israel.  At year's end, Arabs in the city of Jaffa 
were trying to prevent the building of housing units over a 
Muslim cemetery in Kfar Shalem.  The High Court turned down an 
appeal by Jaffa's supreme Islamic committee which had argued 
that the land in question had been illegally acquired by a 
joint government/municipality building company. 

     People with Disabilities

The Government provides a range of benefits, including income 
maintenance, housing subsidies, and transportation support, for 
the approximately 10 percent of the Israeli population who have 
disabilities.  While the law provides for equal treatment of 
disabled persons, advocacy groups report continued difficulties 
with enforcement in the areas of employment and housing.  The 
law also requires public buildings to provide complete access 
for disabled persons, but it is not widely enforced.  There is 
no law providing for access to public transportation.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Israeli workers may join freely established organizations of 
their own choosing.  Israeli Arabs are free to form their own 
unions but have not done so.  Most unions belong to the General 
Federation of Labor in Israel (Histadrut) or to a much smaller 
rival federation and are independent of the Government, 
although a majority of the elected union leadership is 
identified with the Labor Party and a significant Likud Party 
minority.  About 60 percent of the work force, including 
Israeli Arabs, are members of the Histadrut trade unions, and 
an additional 15-20 percent are covered by Histadrut's social 
and insurance programs and collective bargaining agreements.  
Histadrut members democratically elect national and local 
officers and officials of its affiliated women's organization, 
Naamat, from political party lists.  Plant or enterprise 
committee members are elected individually.

The right to strike is exercised regularly.  A 15-day notice 
prior to a strike or a lockout is legally mandated unless 
otherwise specified in the collective bargaining agreement, but 
unauthorized strikes also occur.  Strike leaders--even those 
organizing illegal strikes--are protected by law.  If essential 
public services are affected, the Government may appeal to 
labor courts for back-to-work orders while negotiations 
continue.  The Government had recourse to this right during a 
2-week general strike in the public sector in July.  Other 
strikes in 1993 were concentrated in the health and public 

Unions freely exercise their right to form federations and 
affiliate internationally.  The lifting of the Israeli ban on 
contacts with the PLO and the signing of the Declaration of 
Principles have led to the beginning of an informal dialog 
between Histadrut and the representatives of Palestinian trade 
unions in the occupied territories on issues of mutual 
interest.  Nonresident workers, including the approximately 
52,000 nonresident Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza 
currently working legally in Israel, may not be members of 
Israeli trade unions and thus may not belong to union health 
systems or participate in union elections or other activities.

Palestinian workers may not organize their own trade unions 
within Israel.  Palestinian trade unions in the occupied 
territories are not permitted to operate in Israel.  However, 
nonresident workers in the organized sector, including 
Palestinians from the occupied territories, are entitled to 
Histadrut contract and grievance protection and may join, vote 
for, and be elected to shop-level workers' committees if their 
numbers in individual establishments exceed a minimum 
threshold.  Palestinian participation in such committees is 
minimal.  Labor laws applicable in Israel also apply to 
Palestinians in east Jerusalem and Syrian Druze on the Golan 
Heights (see the occupied territories report for discussion of 
worker rights in east Jerusalem and the West Bank and Gaza.)

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Israelis fully exercise their legal right to organize and 
bargain collectively.  While there is no law specifically 
prohibiting antiunion discrimination, the basic law against 
discrimination could be cited to contest discrimination based 
on union membership.  No antiunion discrimination has been 
reported.  Nonresident workers may not organize on their own or 
bargain collectively but are entitled to representation by the 
bargaining agent and the protection of collective bargaining 
agreements.  They do not pay union membership fees but pay a 
1-percent agency fee which entitles them to union protection by 
Histadrut's collective bargaining agreements.  Israelis fully 
exercise their legal right to organize and bargain 
collectively.  The Ministry of Labor can and does extend 
collective bargaining agreements in one sector to nonunionized 
workplaces in the same sector.  The Ministry of Labor also 
oversees personal contracts and wage arrangements in 
unorganized sectors of the economy.

There are currently no export processing zones, although a 
government bill authorizing creation of such zones has been 
approved by the Cabinet and is currently pending in the 
Knesset.  The city of Eilat is a duty-free area in which all 
relevant Israeli labor laws apply.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and neither 
Israeli citizens nor nonresident Palestinians working in Israel 
are subject to such practices.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

By law, children under age 15 may not be employed.  
Schoolchildren aged 15 may not be employed without special 
permission except as apprentices or during school vacations.  
Employment of those aged 16 to 18 is restricted to ensure time 
for rest and education.  Israeli labor exchanges do not process 
work applications for West Bank or Gaza Palestinians under age 
17, and often higher age requirements are imposed for security 
reasons.   Ministry of Labor Inspectors enforce these laws, but 
advocates of children's rights charge that enforcement is lax, 
especially in smaller, unorganized workplaces.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Legislation in 1987 established a minimum wage at 45 percent of 
the average wage, calculated periodically and adjusted for cost 
of living increases.  As of August 1993, the minimum wage was 
about $499 (NIS 1396.77) per month.  The Ministry of Labor is 
charged with enforcing minimum wage regulations.  In 1993 the 
Government increased resources available to tighten the 
enforcement of minimum wage legislation but continued to 
identify this as a problem.  The minimum wage is often 
supplemented by special allowances and is generally sufficient 
to provide workers and their families an acceptable standard of 

By law, maximum hours of work at regular pay are 47 hours per 
week, 8 per day, and 7 the day before the weekly rest, which 
must be at least 36 consecutive hours and include the Sabbath.  
By national collective agreements, the private sector 
established a maximum 45-hour workweek in 1988, while the 
public sector moved to a 5-day, 42-1/2 hour workweek in 1989.

Along with union representatives, the Labor Inspection Service 
enforces labor, health, and safety standards in the workplace, 
although resource constraints affect overall enforcement.  
Legislation protects the employment rights of safety delegates 
elected or appointed from among the employees of an enterprise 
and charged with overseeing, in conjunction with management, 
the overall safety and health of the work force.  Workers do 
not have the legislated right to remove themselves from 
dangerous work situations without jeopardy to continued 
employment.  However, collective bargaining agreements in some 
sectors provide the worker with recourse through the work site 
labor committee.  In addition, any worker may challenge unsafe 
work practices through appropriate government oversight and 
legal agencies.  

For the first 3 months of 1993, the Government continued to 
enforce restrictions on West Bank and Gazan workers imposed in 
the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf war requiring employers to 
register all Palestinian employees with government agencies and 
requiring all Palestinian workers seeking employment in Israel 
to qualify for a government-issued "magnetic card" which 
permits access to Israel and also serves as a work permit.  In 
late March, after a series of attacks against Israelis, the 
Government closed access to Israel from the occupied 
territories.  The Government gradually applied new occupational 
quotas, stricter criteria regarding age and marital status, and 
additional security checks for Palestinians seeking to work in 
Israel.  In the succeeding months, these criteria were 
gradually relaxed but not removed.  As a result the number of 
workers from the occupied territories employed through the 
Israeli employment service labor exchanges fell from 74,000 in 
February to 8,500 in mid-April before rising to 52,000 by 
December.  (The latter figure excludes Palestinians working in 
Jerusalem, transportation services, or diplomatic missions.)  
Prior to the March closure of the territories, an estimated 
30,000 to 40,000 unregistered workers from the occupied 
territories entered Israel to work.  Government officials 
estimated in December that between 10,000 and 15,000 
unregistered Palestinian workers were employed in Israel.  All 
workers from the territories are employed on a daily basis and, 
unless they are employed on shiftwork, are not authorized to 
spend the night in Israel.  Police carry out identity checks of 
Palestinians found outside the workplace and arrest and fine 
those without valid work permits.  

Palestinians working in Israel are technically covered by the 
laws and collective bargaining agreements that cover Israeli 
workers, including minimum wage, sick leave, severance pay, 
paid vacations, and pensions administered by the Ministry of 
Labor and Social Affairs.  However, it is widely believed that 
most Palestinian workers do not receive the full benefits to 
which they are entitled under these laws and agreements.  In 
return for their NII contributions, Palestinian workers receive 
some of the benfits Israeli workers receive but do not have 
access to unemployment insurance, general disability payments, 
low-income supplements, child allotments or maternity leave, 
all of which are provided to Israeli workers.  In 1993 the 
Government made public for the first time parts of the civil 
administration budget relating to programs carried out in the 
occupied territories.

Palestinians working in Israel are paid through the employment 
service of the Labor Ministry, which receives their wages and 
benefits from employers and pays the recipient after deducting 
taxes, a 1-percent union fee, and contributions to the National 
Insurance Institute (NII).  The same percentage (5.35 percent) 
for NII contributions is deducted from the pay of legally hired 
Palestinians and from Israeli workers.  In return for their NII 
contributions, Palestinian workers receive some, but not all, 
of the benefits Israeli workers receive.  Because of these 
restrictions, only 1.2 percent of Palestinian workers' pay goes 
to the NII.  The remaining 4.15 percent is nonetheless deducted 
from their pay in order to equalize the labor costs of 
Palestinians and Israelis.  The ILO has long criticized this 
inequality in entitlements.  These funds are deposited with the 
Finance Ministry, which applies them to programs administered 
by the Government in the West Bank and Gaza.  In 1993 the 
Government made public parts of this budget for the first time.

In 1991 an employer brought suit to the Supreme Court, arguing 
that Palestinian workers and their employers should have to 
contribute only that part of the salary that applied to 
benefits directly received by the employee.  In response to the 
Supreme Court's recommendation, the Government formed an 
interagency committee to study the issue.  In 1993 the 
committee issued draft legislation that would essentially 
institutionalize the status quo.  The proposed legislation 
remained under Knesset review at the end of 1993.  Also at the 
end of 1993 a human rights organization announced plans to file 
a class-action suit against the Ministry of Labor and Social 
Affairs for failing to provide equal benefits to Israeli and 
Palestinian workers employed in Israel.  Israeli settlers 
living in the occupied territories but working inside Israel 
have the same benefits as all other Israeli workers.

[end of document]


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