PALESTINIANS HAVE YET TO APPOINT MEMBERS TO COMMITTEE FOR DEALING WITH TRANSFER OF WORKERS’ SOCIAL BENEFITS FROM ISRAEL TO AUTONOMY AUTHORITY

(Communicated by Finance Ministry Spokesman) Jerusalem, July 5, 1994

A joint Israeli-Palestinian Committee for implementing the transfer of social benefits (pensions, worker insurance, sick pay, etc.) for Palestinian workers employed in Israel has not yet begun work due to the Palestinian Authority’s failure to designate representatives to the committee. The Finance Ministry reported yesterday (July 4, 1994) that it has been ready to hold meetings with the Palestinian Authority’s representatives to discuss social benefits issues, as agreed upon in the Paris Economic Agreement signed by the two sides in April.

In the Paris Agreement, it was decided that 75 percent of income tax on salaries paid to Palestinians working in Israel would be directly remitted to the Palestinian Authority for their benefit. Pension benefits for Palestinians working for the Civil Administration and other Israeli sources would be supervised, in accordance with the agreement, to ensure Palestinian workers would not not lose their pension rights.

Due to these stipulations, Finance Ministry Budget Director and acting chairman of the Economic Agreement negotiating team David Brodet, said he ‘was shocked by Palestinian arguments that Israel, supposedly, owes huge amounts of money for social benefits to Palestinian workers employed in Israel.’

Brodet said that these topics had already been broached during the economic agreement negotiations in Paris. Following Israel’s explanations, a clear negotiating framework and defined cooperation parameters were established to further discuss the issues.

Regarding social benefits provided by the National Insurance Institute

(NII), Brodet noted that from 1970-1994 Israel had remitted National Insurance (Bituach Leumi) payments from Palestinian workers employed in Israel. A portion of the funds were allocated to the budget of the Civil Administration to fund development and welfare project for the Palestinian population. The other component of the remittances remained within the NII in order to protect Palestinian workers’ rights, which were considered the same as those of foreign workers.

Concerning pension rights, Brodet said Israel has collected funds earmarked for pensions of Palestinian workers employed in Israel and for those who worked for the Civil Administration. In the Paris Agreement, a framework was agreed upon for protecting Palestinian workers’ pension rights. A framework and a system for implementing it will be finalized in the joint Israeli-Palestinian economic committee which has not yet to met as a result of the Palestinians failure to appoint representatives to the committee.