The security cabinet on Sunday approved an outline for a plan to grant work permits to 30,000 Palestinian laborers from the West Bank, a move that would allow them to work in Israel.
According to a report in the Haaretz newspaper on Monday, the laborers are expected to work mostly in such professions as construction, infrastructure, services, and agriculture.
An advance version of the plan was presented to the security cabinet by the commander of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai, on Sunday. A more detailed plan will be delivered to the full cabinet in the coming weeks, the report said.
The Palestinian candidates for work permits will first have to receive Shin Bet clearance.
Currently, 58,000 Palestinians possess Israeli work permits, though experts assess that about 120,000 Palestinians from the West Bank are actually employed — both legally and illegally– by residents of the Jewish state.
Several high-ranking government and security officials, including Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, have recommended increasing the number of Palestinians allowed to work in Israel, in hope that the economic boost to residents of the West Bank would assist in curbing attacks against Israeli civilians and security personnel. A security official quoted by Haaretz Monday stated that the policy of preserving jobs for Palestinians in Israel has proved itself in the past as an effective means of “restraining terrorism.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party, has also expressed support for granting more work permits to Palestinians, suggesting that the number of legal West Bank laborers allowed in Israel be increased by 100,000, the business daily The Marker reported.
Since the outbreak of the current round of violence in the region last October, two terrorist attacks have been carried out by Palestinians possessing Israeli work permits.
Overnight Sunday, IDF and Border Police forces arrested 18 Palestinians in the West Bank, among them three suspected members of Hamas and eight activists who allegedly took part in violent protests.