Cabinet Approves 1,500 Jordanian Workers for Israeli Resort City Eilat

Hotels in Red Sea resort suffering from manpower shortage after firing foreign workers.

Olivier Fitousi

The cabinet on Sunday approved the potential entry of 1,500 Jordanian day workers into Eilat. The proposal by Tourism Minister Uzi Landau and Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar is aimed at addressing the severe labor shortage facing Eilat hotels during peak season, following the dismissal of thousands of foreign workers.

The Jordanians would work in cleaning, arranging rooms and dish washing in Eilat hotels, and return to Jordan following each day of work.

Cabinet ministers expect the arrangement will strengthen relations between Israel and Jordan.

The proposal calls for a committee to recommend how many work permits to issue and to which hotels. The employment of the Jordanians will be permitted through 2019, or until Eilat’s unemployment rate hits 7.5%. Initially only 500 work permits will be issued, and others will be issued later if needed.

Eilat has some 12,000 hotel rooms, which take thousands of workers to maintain. The Red Sea resort has no suburbs and is surrounded by desert, meaning the potential workforce is limited. Various measures were taken over the years in order to fill the jobs, but efforts to draw Israelis to work in hospitality in Israel’s southernmost city have failed.

Hoteliers turned to the government in a bid to solve their manpower shortage. The hotels had illegally employed foreign workers for years with the full knowledge and tacit agreement of the authorities, but, in line with the policy of mass deportations and detention of foreign workers, it was decided to eliminate the phenomenon of illegal employment by the end of March.

A past agreement with Jordan currently enables the employment of 300 Jordanian day workers in Eilat. Every day since 2000, some 170 Jordanians have entered Eilat in order to work, returning home at night.