Photo Credit: Screenshot
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir outside the cabinet meeting, December 10, 2023.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir declared on Sunday morning, on his way to attend a cabinet debate on allowing thousands of day workers residing in the Palestinian Authority to start entering Israel regularly again: “I say it explicitly: I will oppose and will work to persuade my colleagues to also oppose this life-threatening thing.”

Since the beginning of the war, tens of thousands of workers from Judea and Samaria have been barred from crossing into Israel, with only 5,000 of them who are defined as “essential workers” still working in food and medical production plants.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who initially objected to renewing the flow of day workers who are most direly needed in construction and agriculture, told a press conference last week that “this is indeed on the agenda, there are reasons pro and con. If you bring in such a population, you’ll never know what you will encounter. The reasons for doing it are the two sectors that are on the verge of paralysis – construction and agriculture.”

Netanyahu also cited “assessments by security officials that the rising unemployment in the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria could lead to another flare-up.”

When Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich asked for clarifications regarding the number of workers needed to fill the gap in construction and agriculture, he didn’t receive definitive figures. Smotrich also demanded to know which specific locations are to receive PA Arab workers, and what would be the security profiles of the same workers, in an effort to asses the security arrangements as well as the transportation required for them.

Another unresolved issue is the gap between the level of security profiling of PA Arab workers in the settlements and those inside the green line. It appears that while security considerations in the green line are high, and are set by the security apparatus to protect Israeli civilians, in the settlements the profiling is decided by the central command commander, whose standards are less strict.

Smotrich demanded the unification of these standards. He also demanded that every increase in the number of Arab workers allowed across the border must be approved separately by the political cabinet.

Ben Gvir, for his part, is fighting the very idea of ever again letting Arab workers from Judea and Samaria into Israel, calling it part of the old “conceptzia.”

“I live in Hebron, and I hear the incitement in the mosques, we know that the workers arrive full of hate and anti-Jewish motivation,” Ben Gvir said on Sunday. “I’m not saying this means everyone is this way, but it’s enough that ten percent of them arrive like that to place our lives in danger.”

“The position of the police, the national security ministry, and my position is to prohibit the entry of even a single worker. Not one worker will enter,” Ben Gvir reiterated, adding, “There are foreign workers, there are volunteers, we must turn the world upside down to add more and more workers, but not by allowing the entry of any workers from the Palestinian Authority who arrive here imbued with hatred.”


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