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Al-Araby al-Jadeed/AFP

China bans builders from working on Israeli settlements

Chinese construction workers have been banned from West Bank settlements [AFP]

Date of publication: 9 June, 2015

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China has banned its citizens from working in construction in the West Bank, upsetting Israeli plans to increase settlement building.

China has insisted none of its construction workers is employed in West Bank settlements, a senior Israeli government official said Monday.

The decision is likely to delay the signing of a bilateral labour accord between the two countries.

Israeli finance minister Moshe Kahlon was hoping to use Chinese construction workers to accelerate settlement building in the West Bank, according to Haaratz.

"We are negotiating with China for an agreement on the arrival of thousands of additional workers. For the moment, talks are stumbling over several problems, including the employment of these immigrants in settlements," a government official told AFP, requesting anonymity.

This reflects pledges made by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his reelection campaign to increase settlement construction.

Cabinet ministers in Netanyahu's new government have called for more building in the occupied territories, which is an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.

The international community regards all Israeli construction on Palestinian land seized during the 1967 Six-Day War as illegal.

Haaretz said that the bilateral accord is part of a series of agreements Israeli has signed with a number of governments since 2011, after being accused of abusing foreign workers and receiving a low score on labour practices from the US state department.

Agreements have been signed with countries including Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Nepal.

The Israeli official denied China's decision was connected to calls for an economic and cultural boycott of the Jewish state.

"It is more likely linked to Beijing's diplomatic position that supports the creation of a Palestinian state and opposes Israel's presence" on occupied Palestinian territory, he told AFP.

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