The Romanian government has said it will stop sending construction workers to Israel if Jerusalem does not pledge they won't be working in the West Bank.
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The two sides have been trying to reach a new agreement for about two years but have failed despite Israel’s shortage of workers in the construction sector.
The Romania news comes in the wake of tension between Israel and the European Union over the 28-member body's recently issued guidelines, which prohibit any EU grants, loans or prizes from going to activities of Israeli entities in the West Bank, Golan Heights or East Jerusalem. Romania joined the EU in 2007.
Details of the Romanian decision were revealed at a recent discussion of the interministerial committee for recruiting workers for the construction industry. Israel will be hiring more laborers from Moldova and Bulgaria, with which agreements have already been signed, due to the problems with Romania and a delayed agreement with China.
The Housing and Construction Ministry has been pressuring the government to sign deals with more countries to increase the number of construction workers in the country.
MK Michal Rozin (Meretz), chairwoman of the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers, criticized the government’s refusal to accede to Romania’s demand. “Israelis are being harmed by the government’s activity in the territories,” she said.
The Association of Contractors and Builders in Israel said the serious shortage of workers was delaying the construction of housing at a time of high demand.