Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen discussed bringing 25,000 workers from Ecuador with the South American country’s incoming Foreign Minister, Gabriela Sommerfeld on Monday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced.
Cohen, Sommerfeld and other international dignitaries are in Buenos Aires for the inauguration of Argentine President Javier Milei.
Israeli agriculture is facing staggering losses in production and manpower.
Before October 7, Israel had 29,900 foreigners working in agriculture, mostly from Thailand. Farmers also employed 10,000-20,000 Palestinian Authority and Gazan laborers depending on the season.
Since the war, most foreign workers have returned to their home countries, while Palestinian Authority workers are not allowed to enter Israel for security reasons.
Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture recently announced that 500 non-combat soldiers will be assigned to help farmers on a daily basis, to help meet a shortfall of workers.
A survey of Israeli farmers found that 72 percent have experienced disruptions to their workforce, even in areas not near Gaza or the Lebanese border, such as central Israel or the Jordan Valley.
Cohen and Sommerfeld also met with representatives of the families Israeli hostages in Gaza and listened to the stories of Chen Mahlouf, daughter of Michelle Nissenbaum, and Maya Shmiel, cousin of Yair and Eitan Horn, who are being held captive.
Ecuador currently holds the rotating position of President of the United Nations Security Council.
Cohen also invited Sommerfeld to visit Israel.
“We will work together to quickly promote a framework agreement between the two countries that will bring to Israel 25,000 workers and interns from Ecuador, in the fields of agriculture and construction,” said Cohen.