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Legal Knowledge is a Resouce for Claiming Individual and Communal Rights  

LEAP was founded in 2018 to provide from within the West Bank legal advice and assistance to West Bank Palestinians. LEAP focuses on providing assistance to Palestinian workers and day laborers who are denied permits to enter Israel for employment or whose permits are revoked.  LEAP also provides legal advice for permits to travel for higher education at colleges and universities abroad, for travel to and from Gaza for humanitarian reasons, and for entry into the West Bank for diaspora Palestinians. 


The fact that for the five-plus decades of the occupation most West Bank Palestinians have not had access to legal advice and assistance from lawyers knowledgeable in Israeli law underscores the extent to which West Bank Palestinians have not been able to assert their basic civil rights.  Israel law controls most of the fundamental aspects of Palestinian life on the West Bank. Israeli law grants Palestinians the status to claim rights at Israeli administrative agencies and courts, yet this critical resource is scarcely used due to lack of awareness and the absence of legal assistance.


Legal advice and representation make a big difference. In the case of Palestinian workers, by filing complaints with the administrative agency and petitions in Israeli administrative court, the project's lawyers succeed in getting most revoked work permits reissued and permits issued for first-time applicants. Legal advice and assistance empower the Palestinian community for making structural changes in the administrative law that controls their lives and has a cumulative effect when civil rights are claimed for individuals. 

The Right to Work

One hundred thousand West Bank Palestinians work in Israel. The income of each worker supports on average 4 additional persons so that getting the entry permit issued has a multiplier impact on living standards in the West Bank. Yet many Palestinians are denied permits to work in Israel, and others lose their permits while working in Israel, because of mistaken or unjustified administrative decisions in Israeli agencies.

Palestinian workers need to overcome difficult bureaucratic and legal barriers to obtain permits to travel daily to Israel for employment.  Applicants for permits face an opaque system of regulations and administrative law that apply to the West Bank. Many Palestinians are denied travel and entry permits on grounds not disclosed to them. The regulations are revised frequently and not accessible to the workers.  Scores of documents define how permits are issued, denied, revoked, and renewed but no person unaided by legal knowledge can possibly understand them.

The bureaucratic difficulties breed corruption in the permit application procedures. Many Palestinian workers pay a percentage of their monthly wages to middlemen who arrange necessary documents signed by Israeli employers who receive financial kickbacks from the middlemen.

Yet, despite these difficulties, legal advice and assistance make a great difference for those in need. By filing requests with the administrative agency and petitions in Israeli administrative courts, the project's lawyers are able to obtain permits for many Palestinians whose applications are denied and reinstate permits for most of the Palestinians whose permits are revoked. Without legal assistance, these workers would have remained unemployed. Entire families would have had to give up basic living amenities.  

Absence of Affordable Legal Service

Within Israel, legal assistance for Israelis who cannot afford a lawyer is provided by state legal aid departments.  But West Bank Palestinians are not entitled to Israeli state legal assistance in administrative or civil proceedings, even though they are subject to Israeli law applied in the Occupied Territories. The Palestinian Authority lobbies the Israeli government to increase the number of permits issued to workers, but it does not provide legal aid to workers who have trouble getting or retaining permits. 

Most West Bank Palestinians cannot afford to pay for legal advice or representation. A West Bank Palestinian who holds an entrance permit to work in Israel, and then suddenly the permit is revoked, cannot afford to pay legal fees.  In addition, without a presently valid entry permit, he or she cannot travel to a law office in Israel to seek legal representation. LEAP addresses these problems by providing legal aid at its office in the West Bank.

LEAP's track record is shown in the assistance provided to Palestinian workers

The project's attorneys meet the workers who request legal aid at their office in the West Bank town Hawarra. 

During the past three years, LEAP's lawyers filed agency requests or court petitions for hundreds of West Bank Palestinians.

70% of the workers who received legal aid obtained permits previously denied or revoked.

The high rate of reversal shows that most of the denials and revocations of work permits were unsupported by facts or that the presentation of additional facts yielded a positive result.

This is a key point for understanding the rationale for providing legal aid to Palestinian workers – in most cases, legal representation helps restore a family’s livelihood, but workers can’t afford it.

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