A five-person panel of the National Labor Court on Sunday ruled that Israeli labor law applies retroactively to the employer-employee relationship between an Israeli employer and a West Bank Palestinian employee, and not Jordanian law.
The ruling was handed down in spite of Palestinians being non-citizens or residents, that the work itself was performed in the West Bank and in spite of the fact that in many areas of law, including some areas of criminal law, Israel applies pre- 1967 Jordanian law to Palestinians in accordance with the international laws of belligerent occupation.
The ruling has wide-ranging implications, including validating Palestinian worker rights to minimum wage, vacation days, compensation for not using up sick days and for not taking off from work on official holidays, rights to reimbursement for transportation expenses and additional compensation to make up for the lack of an available pension plan for Palestinians.
The ruling upheld a 2008 ruling by the Regional Nazareth Labor Court on the particular case and also applied an earlier 2007 Supreme Court ruling on the general issue of Israeli- Palestinian employer-employee relations.
But it was the first ruling to apply Palestinian rights under Israeli labor law retroactively to even before the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling in recognizing the rights of the Palestinian, Yusef Bisharat, against Reuven Baali from when Bisharat was employed by Baali as an agricultural worker during the years 2004 to 2008.
Bisharat started working for Baali at least as early as 2001, but the 2004-8 years were the basis of the dispute.
The court rejected Baali’s argument that Israel had an interest in applying Jordanian law to the issue, stating that this was a perfect example where applying Israeli law was proper since the work relations between the parties were generally more connected with Israeli law.
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