Mr. Mustafa estimates that about 80 percent of camp residents who work in construction are now unemployed, while those still working are taking jobs for 50 shekels a day ($13) rather than the 150 shekels ($40) they used to make.
“The settlement freeze has only brought more poverty,” complains Abdel Aziz Othman.
“There’s no work anywhere,” agrees Issa Muhammed Mahmoud, a young man who spends most days sitting here, chatting and drinking tea for lack of something else to do. “I used to be able to go into Israel to work on sites there, but now they don’t give permits for that, and they’re bringing laborers from China to do it.”
The fact that so many Palestinians work on building sites in the occupied West Bank is a sensitive matter, though most construction workers here will talk freely about it.
On the one hand, settlements are roundly considered by Palestinians to be an impediment to the establishment of a Palestinian state, and clearly stand in the way of Palestinian territorial contiguity in the West Bank. The 120 settlements that Israel has built in the West Bank since 1967 are considered illegal under international law, and Israel never annexed the territory.