Tech worker (illustration)
Tech worker (illustration) ISTOCK

The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved plans granting work permits for Palestinian Arab workers Israel's high-tech sector.

The government has previously approved permits mainly for work in construction, agriculture, industry and services.

With today's approval of the Ministry of Regional Cooperation-Economy and Industry Ministry initiative, in cooperation with the Defense, Finance and Science ministries, the Israeli high-tech sector, which has been suffering from a severe shortage of trained workers in recent years, will be significantly strengthened, alongside the boost to the economic and security benefits of employing Palestinian Arab workers on Israeli territory.

The initiative is divided into three gradual phases – up to 200 workers in 2022, up to 200 additional workers in 2023 and up to 100 additional workers in 2024. A total of up to 500 permits for work in the high-tech sector will be issued without infringing on the overall quota of work permits for Palestinians in Israel.

According to the plan, a restriction will be set according to which the salary of a Palestinian Authority resident in the high-tech sector will not be less than 150% of the average salary in Israel, in order to allow Israeli high-tech companies to directly employ Palestinian Arab workers with advanced skills and 'close to home', i.e. as an alternative to outsourcing to other countries, mainly those in Eastern Europe. This will also protect Israeli workers who are employed in the sector.

The Cabinet also approved a proposal to increase the quota in the services and industrial sectors to a maximum of 8,500 Palestinian workers, and a proposal to increase the quota of Palestinian workers in the Atarot Industrial Zone up to a maximum of 3,600.

Minister of Regional Cooperation Esawi Frej said following the decision to approve the plan: "The Israelis and Palestinians live in a common geographical space and we must strengthen cooperation and mutual relations between the peoples and the economies. Absorbing Palestinian workers in high-tech expresses this desire for links in all areas."

"It also opens gates not only to low-salaried workers in services and industry but also to white-collar workers in a leading sector that has been suffering from a severe personnel shortage. We hope that the initiative will increase the return on higher education in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and strengthen the high-tech sector there as a significant growth engine in strengthening the Palestinian economy. This is a direct continuation of the policy that we have been leading in recent months alongside the increase in quotas in additional sectors and in strengthening economic-commercial ties with the PA."

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