update deskIsrael at War

Court decision could see Arab workers return to Judea and Samaria towns

Attorneys representing construction companies argued that Ma'ale Efrayim should allow P.A. workers to enter.

Construction work in the Jewish community of Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion, Aug. 31, 2022. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90.
Construction work in the Jewish community of Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion, Aug. 31, 2022. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90.

A recent settlement reached in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court could have far-reaching consequences for the ability of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria to bar the entrance of construction workers from areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

The compromise reached in court following litigation between the municipality of Ma’ale Efrayim in the Jordan Valley and four Israeli construction companies states that the Israel Defense Forces will have the final say regarding the admission of laborers, HaKol HaYehudi reported on Tuesday.

While the military banned P.A. Arabs from working in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in the months following Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, head of the IDF Central Command, in late 2023 lifted the access restrictions for industrial zones.

During the court proceedings, attorneys representing four development companies argued that Ma’ale Efrayim should allow P.A. workers to enter again, claiming that the IDF decision regarding industrial zones should also apply to construction sites in the town’s new neighborhood.

Ma’ale Efrayim Local Council head Shlomo Lalosh noted that the new apartments are being built near an existing neighborhood, warning of safety risks that could lead to a “disaster.”

Following the signing of the court-ordered settlement agreement, Ma’ale Efrayim demanded stricter security measures, including high fences surrounding the building sites and delaying the entry of Arab workers until the end of Ramadan next week, HaKol HaYehudi reported.

While it was not immediately clear whether the IDF green-lit the entry of P.A. laborers to the site, lawyers for the real estate companies claimed in court documents that the responsible brigadier general already approved proposals for part of the project.

Before the war, some 200,000 Palestinian workers were employed throughout Israel, including 30,000 in Judea and Samaria.

Two surveys last year found that some two-thirds of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria support the Oct. 7 attacks, in which thousands of Hamas terrorists broke through the Gaza border, murdered some 1,200 people, wounded thousands more and took more than 240 captive.

Plans to readmit Palestinians to Jewish communities have been met with dismay by many Israelis. A poll taken in Eli, a community of approximately 4,500 inhabitants in the Binyamin region of Samaria, this week showed that 82% of residents oppose their entry, regardless of additional security measures, Channel 14 reported on Wednesday.

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