Coalition Foils Bill to Replace Foreign Workers With Israelis

The government coalition has managed to stall a bill in the Knesset Finance Committee that would encourage Israelis to replace foreign workers in agriculture. Meretz MK Ran Cohen's bill proposes an experiment of using NIS 5 million annually to increase wages in the sector.

The idea is backed by Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon (Labor-Meimad), who called it essential and correct, and by farming organizations. Coalition MKs, including Kadima's Shai Hermesh and Labor-Meimad MKs Avishay Braverman, Shelly Yachimovich and Orit Noked helped pass the bill in committee by a large majority, with two abstentions and no objections.

But then Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beitenu), who chairs the Finance Committee, announced he wants a revote on a different date, thus delaying the bill.

Cohen was sharply critical, saying he was "shocked by the madness of coalition systems that employ corrupt methods to prevent Israelis from working in the field of agriculture. The treasury appears to be insistent on introducing cheap labor at the expense of Israeli labor," he charged.