Arutz Sheva’s weekly newspaper, B’Sheva, asked three Israeli public figures what they think of the government’s decision to grant another 5,000 work permits to Palestinian Authority residents. Israel already employs more than 10% of working PA residents.
Nerya Ofer: Jews Should Hire Jews
Nerya Ofer of the Hebrew Labor Hotline was concerned by the decision. Living alongside non-Jews who are hostile to Judaism can lead to assimilation and loss of Jewish identity on both the individual and national level, he warned.
Ofer suggested that Jews employ their fellow Jews, instead.
“We will earn a living one from another, Jew from Jew. The costs will be higher, but our earnings in terms of social cohesion will greatly outweigh the price difference between a Jewish and non-Jewish laborer,” he said.
“Once we have internal cohesion and have bolstered our Jewish identity by taking care of each other through Jewish labor, it will be easier for us to stand together against external threats,” he added.
Ayelet Shaked: Yes to 'Economic Peace'
MK Ayelet Shaked of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) faction argued in support of the change.
“This decision is important and beneficial for a few reasons,” she said. “The first is that, we believe, peace… is made between people ‘on the ground,’ not with cocktails in Norway. Giving Palestinians the chance to earn a respectable living – which they can’t do under the corrupt PA leadership – gives the Palestinian man on the street the sense that Israel is taking care of him.”
The tightening economic ties between Israel and the PA also encourage peace by “causing those who are not involved in terrorism to realize the price that those groups are making him pay” by disrupting Israel-PA ties, she argued.
When, in the past, fewer PA laborers entered Israel, Israeli employers replaced them with illegal foreign workers, she said.
“One of the main problems created by illegal entry is the fact that they make their homes in the cities they work in, and turn entire regions into neglected, crisis areas. This problem doesn’t exist with the Palestinians,” she said.
Increasing the number of PA laborers in Israel will decrease the motivation among citizens of African nations living in Egypt to illegally enter Israel, she concluded.
Danny Atar: Hire PA Arabs, but Be Careful
Labor party member and Gilboa regional council head Danny Atar expressed support for the work permit increase, but also voiced concerns.
“Opening the market can reduce the anger on their side and provide cheaper labor for us – on a daily basis, not a several-day basis, that is, they don’t stay to sleep within official Israeli territory.
“This whole process needs to be carefully organized, clearly supervised, so we know who employs each worker,” he continued. Despite the safety concerns, overall, employing PA workers improves Israeli security, he added, “It’s known that people who are sitting around unemployed are more easily recruited to terrorism.”
However, Atar said, it would have been better to resolve the issue in the context of Israel-PA talks, rather than provide the work permits as a unilateral Israeli gesture. “For years we’ve been demanding negotiations without preconditions. Is this not a precondition?” he asked.
“There is chaos around us in the Arab world. Nobody knows which way things will go in the future, even in Jordan, and as a country we need to be much more careful and more aware… So on the one hand I think it’s better to employ Palestinians and not foreign workers from Thailand and the like, but it all needs careful supervision.”