Israel Lets More Palestinian Workers Enter Amid PA Financial Crisis

Israel's move to increase the number of Palestinian workers by 15,000 stems from a shortage of construction workers and the argument that 'employing Palestinian has diplomatic and security benefits'

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Construction workers in Tel Aviv, in 2016.
Construction workers in Tel Aviv, in 2016.Credit: Eyal Toueg
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The Israeli government approved on Sunday to let 15,000 additional Palestinian construction workers into Israel, in a move that brings the total number of work permits issued for Palestinian construction workers by Israel to 80,000.

The proposal to increase the number of Palestinians working in Israel stemmed from both a shortage of construction workers and the belief that, as the resolution said, “employing Palestinian workers in Israel has diplomatic and security benefits.”

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The proposal was promoted by Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Freige and Construction and Housing Minister Zeev Elkin.

The Defense Ministry is expected to allocate up to 10 million shekels ($3.1 million) in the next two years to fund the necessary security personnel at land crossings to handle the increased number of workers entering Israel.

“Another 15,000 Palestinian families will receive proper means of living," Freige said after the government vote in favor of the proposal. Freige added that the move enables the construction of more projects as well as create "more jobs for Israelis – Arabs and Jews."

Two weeks ago, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr visited Israel and the West Bank to discuss the latter’s financial crisis. Officials who met with him said he voiced the Biden administration’s concern about the situation and urged Israel to take steps to increase the Palestinian Authority’s cash flow.

In a statement released after the visit, the State Department said Washington sought “to advance equal measures of freedom, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” and that Amr’s visit “successfully advanced the goal of deepening understanding with Israelis and Palestinians in this regard.” It added that the topics discussed included economic development, energy and water.