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Palestinian Living Standards Key, Israeli Union Leader Says

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11 August, 2005ICEM News release No. 14/1998

Good living standards for Palestinian workers are crucial to peace in the Middle East, Israeli union leader Amir Peretz declared yesterday. "Starving people do not believe in the Peace Process," Peretz added.

He had just returned from Egypt, where he had discussions with President Mubarak. Peretz, who is Chairman of the Israeli general labour federation Histadrut, asked Mubarak to encourage closer relations between Egyptian and Israeli unions. At the global level, Histadrut is affiliated to the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), as are Egyptian chemical, petroleum and public utility unions.

The Middle East peace process is essential to economic progress and development and to the well-being of all peoples living in the area, Peretz said on his return to Israel. Histadrut, he emphasised, stands firmly behind its policy that Palestinians must receive priority in employment opportunities, over foreign workers.

Earlier, Peretz had taken part in a demonstration in Tel Aviv to demand Israeli government action against unemployment. The demonstration followed news of more factory closures in Israel.