These Palestinians aren't happy about Israel settlement freeze
Many Palestinian construction workers were employed in building projects that Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu's 10-month settlement freeze has put on hold.
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But on the other hand, most Palestinians consider working in settlements to be a form of realpolitik applied to home economics. Palestinians who are skilled in masonry, construction, and other relevant trades have built the vast majority of homes in Israel’s controversial settlements to meet their daily needs.Skip to next paragraph
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“While the politicians dawdle away the months, we have families to feed,” says Fawzi Aqraba, a Palestinian from the Nablus area interviewed while finishing off a home in the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Netafim. “Everyone at home in my village knows what I do, and I don’t think anyone judges it. We have to survive.”
New 'Dignity Fund' for Palestinians
Mr. Abbas rejected Netanyahu’s offer of a 10-month settlement freeze late last year, maintaining his position that the stop-work order should mean all building comes to a halt, and that it must include East Jerusalem. Netanyahu exempted approximately 3,000 buildings – projects already begun – from the freeze, and he has rejected calls to limit Israeli building anywhere in Jerusalem. George Mitchell, the US Middle East peace envoy, was here last week in the hopes of forging a breakthrough, but none was apparent.
Palestinian officials hold that the Israeli offer is too limited in scope. “Washington, along with the international community, is pressuring the Palestinians without obliging Israel to stop settlement construction,” Nabil Shaath, a member of the Central Committee of Abbas’s Fatah party, said Tuesday in a statement e-mailed to reporters.
Ziad Toame, director general at the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy, says the Palestinian Authority (PA) recognizes that many Palestinian workers depend on jobs in the settlements. Mr. Toame’s ministry is in charge of enforcing a new PA campaign to get Palestinians to stop buying goods made in settlements. As part of the campaign, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad set up a $2 million “Dignity Fund” to compensate Palestinian merchants for their losses.
“We hope that the Dignity Fund will be expanded, if we get more donors, and then we might be able to compensate construction workers as well,” Toame says. “Or start training programs so they can do something else.”