Israel’s cabinet approves 3,500 additional permits for Palestinian workers in Israel’s manufacturing and services sector to 12,000 to help alleviate shortage of skilled workers, the economy ministry said today, according to Reuters. .
Workers from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967, need permits to cross checkpoints and enter Israel, where wages are higher.
Israel employs nearly 100,000 Palestinian workers in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority. But most work in construction or agriculture, and only a relatively small number have been granted work permits in factories or services.
The unemployment rate in Israel is around 3% and the Ministry of Economy said that the existence of 14,000 vacancies in manufacturing creates an obstacle to economic growth.
Economy Minister Orna Barbavai said in a statement that in addition to additional work permits for Palestinians, the ministry plans to work to increase processing productivity through automation and digitization.
The quota for Palestinian manufacturing workers will automatically be reduced if the average annual unemployment rate in Israel rises above 7.5%, the government said.
Ron Tomer, head of the Israeli Manufacturers Association, called the decision to increase the number of Palestinians allowed to work in Israel a “lifeline” for the industrial sector, given the severe shortage of workers.
“At the moment there are thousands of vacancies that manufacturers are finding difficult to fill and we believe that increasing the quota will help reduce the serious shortage at least in the short and medium term and help the industry continue to operate and grow in Israel,” he said. .