The economic-social cabinet has approved providing another 5,000 Palestinian Authority workers with permits to work in Israel proper. The permits will allow the PA Arabs to take jobs, mostly in construction and agriculture. As a result, the total number of PA Arabs with such permits will reach 10,000.
The main reason for the increase in permits is to provide PA Arabs with more sources of income, the cabinet said in a statement. In addition, the workers will increase the number of laborers in two areas where contractors and farmers say they have had a hard time recruiting Jews for work. At the meeting, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that he hoped that “the increased cooperation between Israel and the PA will strengthen the economies of both sides.”
Officials in the building industry said the move could help lower prices of apartments. Assaf Aviv, CEO of Mordechai Aviv Construction, a large Israeli contractor said that “the government has taken a good step in the right direction” by authorizing the new workers, “but it would have been better if they had taken steps to cover the entire shortfall in the number of construction workers needed.”According to Aviv, “there is an immediate need for 20,000 professionals in all areas of construction.”
Some, however, dispute the assertion that Jewish Israelis do not wish to work in construction. A recently completed housing project in the Samaria town of Kedumim, called Maoz Ido, after the late Ido (Idodi) Zoldan, who was murdered by terrorists who shot up his car in 2007 as he was driving home, was built by Jewish workers exclusively.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Itamar Zoldan said that his late brother “was very much concerned with Jewish labor.” Yochai Ofan of the Kedumim La’ad construction company, which is responsible for the project, said that there were plenty of Jews interested in working on construction projects, especially in Judea and Samaria. “A beard and a kippah are not a requirement [to work here], but there is definitely a feeling of building the land of Israel out of awareness of the Torah,” he said, adding “and the fact that we are fulfilling the vision of the prophets, something for which we waited 2,000 years.”