Israel has agreed to allow 1,500 Jordanian laborers to work in the Israeli resort city of Eilat, according to an Israeli official.
Israeli Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayyub Kara signed the agreement with Jordanian officials last week, Kara told Ma’an Friday, adding the agreement will give workers from the nearby Jordanian city of Aqaba special permits in cooperation with the Jordanian Ministry of Labor.
The agreement is expected to be followed by additional projects including the creation of new border crossings between Israel and Jordan, and a joint industrial zone in the northern Jordan Valley.
Kara says the agreements are part of an Israeli plan to replace foreign workers with Jordanian and Palestinian workers, with the number of work permits given to Palestinians expected to see noticeable increase by the end of 2015.
Until now, Palestinians have been banned from working in Eilat, though tens of thousands have been given permits to work in other Israeli cities. All work permits Israel issues for Palestinian workers include the phrase “allowed to enter Israel excluding Eilat.”
Israel’s professed efforts to replace foreign workers with Jordanians and Palestinians comes as an Israeli official told AFP earlier this month that Israel is hoping to bring in thousands of foreign workers to accelerate the pace of construction across the country and in the occupied West Bank.
“We are negotiating with China for an agreement on the arrival of thousands of additional workers,” the official told AFP, requesting anonymity.
China told Israel at the time that it will not allow migrant builders to work in construction on the illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Foreign workers make up around 9 percent of the workforce inside Israel, Israeli news source Jerusalem Post reported earlier this year.
Immigration of a foreign workforce into Israel increased primarily during both the First and Second Intifada, as Israeli employers sought to replace Palestinian workers who were unable to come to work to due severe Israeli restrictions on movement, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.
Despite this, the Bank of Israel reported in March that the number of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank working in Israel — legally and illegally — doubled in the past four years, often displacing foreign workers.
Tens of thousands of Palestinian workers are forced to seek a living by working in Israel as the growth of an independent Palestinian economy has been stifled in the West Bank under the ongoing Israeli military occupation, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.
(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)