Finance Minister: All Illegal Migrant Workers Will Be Expelled by 2013

Out of the approximately 250,000 migrant workers currently in Israel, half are in the country illegally.

Finance Minister Roni Bar-On will present a plan to the government at the end of the month, aimed at reducing the number of legal and illegal migrant workers in Israel by 70,000 within the next two year, and ridding Israel of all illegal migrant workders by 2013.

The proposal, which calls for the deportation of all 125,000 illegal migrant currently in Israel, is part of a comprehensive effort to consolidate national policy regarding migrant workers.

There are an estimated 250,000 migrant workers in Israel today, half of which are in the country illegally. This does not include the approximately 8,000 workers and refugees from Africa in the country who have infiltrated the border with Egypt.

Out of all the migrant workers in Israel, about 50,000 are Palestinian. According to the treasury, years of tough measures against migrant workers led to great success in limiting their numbers. But in the past two years, efforts have weakened, and the number of migrant workers is on the rise again.

The proposal Bar-On will present the cabinet for approval contains several clauses, including: establishing an Interior Ministry immigration authority that would be responsible for the issue of migrant workers; a systematic and permanent reduction in the number of migrant workers, first and foremost the illegal ones; determining criteria for the employment of migrant workers in Israel; and establishing two committees that would create regulations for employing migrant workers in the fields of nursing and agriculture, both of which are politically and socially complex and sensitive.

Bar-On's office holds monthly meetings to further the policy of curbing the migrant workers phenomenon in Israel. One of the plan's main goals is to vacate tens of thousands of jobs for Israeli workers. Migrant workers are thought to be less skilled and often press for lower wages than their Israeli counterparts. According to the plan, limiting migrant workers will increase employment in Israel's lower class.

"We have to ensure that the government's decisions will be carried out," said a treasury representative, adding they will face resistance from special-interest groups who want to increase the number of migrant workers in Israel.