Daily Israel Report

Binyamin Official: For Better or Worse, We Need Arab Workers

Construction in Judea and Samaria has come to a screaming halt as heads of the Binyamin Regional Council evaluate the security situation.
By Yosef Berger
First Publish: 7/3/2014, 10:34 AM

Construction in Ariel, Samaria
Construction in Ariel, Samaria
Flash 90

Construction in Judea and Samaria is a victim of mass Arab rioting in Jerusalem. For security reasons, all Arab laborers have been banned for the time being from Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria. Arab laborers constitute a large portion of the building crews on many construction projects in the towns, so the order effectively suspends construction on many of the projects until further notice.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Avigdor Shatz, head of the security department of the Binyamin Regional Council said that the situation was changeable, but for now, security issues indicated that this was the best move. “Our purpose is to reduce tension between Israelis and Palestinians, based on the recent security issues that have arisen. We will reevaluate this decision again Thursday afternoon,” he said.

The Council considered the matter for many hours before deciding on the ban, and did not take the matter lightly. “This is damaging all around – to the economic development of towns, to the contractors, and to the Palestinian workers. But security has to be the prime concern," Shatz said.

The issues, he said, did not just revolve around the murder of an Arab teen Wednesday, the impetus for mass Arab rioting in Jerusalem, but extended back to the beginning of the kidnapping-murder terror attack, in which Israeli teens Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frenkel, and Gilad Sha'ar were killed. “Already at the beginning, some towns in the region banned Arab workers because of the emotions involved,” said Shatz. “In towns where the Arabs continued to work there were many complaints by residents on the presence of the workers.”

During “normal times, however, the Council is not overly concerned about security issues. “Residents of our towns need to know that we check out all workers thoroughly before granting them a work permit,” Shatz said. “For better or worse, the Palestinians are thoroughly integrated in the construction economy that serves us. Our interest is to expand our towns, and these are the workers available – so we must strike the correct balance between those two needs. Everything is done in conjunction with the IDF, so security is a primary issue for us.” Regarding the current situation, he added, the Council was in “wait and see” mode, and hopes to be able to admit the workers in the coming days.