The Israeli government’s Socio-Economic Cabinet overwhelmingly voted against allowing day workers from the Palestinian Authority into pre-67 Israel. The vote now goes to the more powerful Political-Security cabinet.
The Socio-Economic cabinet decided to request that Prime Minister Netanyahu hold a discussion on defining the conditions and criteria for PA workers to be allowed into the settlements to work, separate from pre-67 Israel.
In addition, the cabinet called on the Ministry of Construction and Housing to come up with recommendations for the cabinet within 30 days to introduce more advanced (and less labor intensive) construction methodologies into Israel.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich praised the decision and said Israel must set up an alternative solution for the market. Other ideas that have been put forward recently include reducing the bureaucracy for bringing in foreign workers as well as introducing professional retraining programs for Israelis.
Smotrich also demanded that the decisions that apply within pre-67 Israeli for the day workers also apply equally to within the settlements.
Citizens of the Palestinian Authority prefer to work in Jewish communities. They get significantly higher salaries, benefits and work conditions than in the Palestinian Authority.
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.”
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.”
Update: After PM Benjamin Netanyahu saw that he did not have support for the vote in the political-security cabinet he did not bring the issue to a vote.
Content by David Israel was used in this report.