The government will vote on Sunday on a proposal to give permits to an additional 15,000 Palestinian construction workers from the West Bank seeking employment in Israel, Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej says in a statement.
“Adding about 15,000 work permits in Israel for the Palestinians will not only serve the needs of the Israeli economy and meet the shortage of workers in the construction sector, but it will also contribute to strengthening the Palestinian economy,” says Frej, a member of the Meretz party.
Around 120,000 Palestinians legally work in Israel and in Israeli settlements, mostly in agriculture and construction. Tens of thousands more work illegally, sneaking across the Green Line through gaps in the security barrier.
Government officials have said they intend to strengthen the ailing Palestinian Authority, and Freij promises more reforms could be en route.
“This step is the first in a series of measures currently being considered in talks between Palestinian and Israeli officials aimed at helping to establish the economic fortitude of the Palestinian Authority,” Frej says.
Freij says the move was coordinated with Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin, a member of the New Hope party.