Building with Jews  in eastern Gush Etzion
Building with Jews in eastern Gush Etzion Israel news photo: Flash 90

More than 5,000 additional Palestinian Authority Arabs will be granted permits to enter Israel and work in construction and agriculture if the Cabinet approves a proposal by Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) designed to minimize the number of new foreign workers accepted to the country. 

Under the plan, 1,250 PA Arabs will receive permits to work in agriculture, and 4,000 others will be given permits to work in construction, in addition to those who already are employed.The proposal goes to the Cabinet for a full discussion on Sunday.

Ben-Eliezer is promoting the proposal as a better alternative to an increase in foreign workers from other countries, like the ones who flood into Israel from Africa. He said Wednesday that Arab workers were preferable because they “return to their homes every day.” He added that his ministry is trying to “professionally train as many Israelis as possible” for the construction industry.

Currently, 11 percent of all PA workers are employed by Israelis, according to the PA Central Bureau of Statistics, including some 10,000 Arabs who work for Israeli employers in Judea and Samaria.

The Palestinian Authority government launched an unsuccessful campaign last summer to force PA Arabs who work for Jews in Judea and Samaria to quit their jobs.

The head of the PA's General Union for Palestinian Workers, Shaher Saed, was careful at the time to say that he supported the ban. He added, however, that the Ramallah government should first find jobs for the workers in order to prevent them from joining the 100,000 PA Arabs already on the jobless rolls.

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