The Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, informed Palestinian Authority senior officials of a rise in the number of Palestinians eligible to work in Israel, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Wednesday.

The decision by COGAT follows a conversation held last week between Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The discussion led to administrative preparation work in coordination with the Israeli Ministries of Housing, Finance, Defense and Regional Cooperation, which led to a decision to increase the number of West Bank Palestinians eligible to work in the construction sector in Israel by 15,000. The number of West Bank Palestinians eligible to work in the tourism industry rose by a thousand, following joint preparations with the Tourism Ministry.

A security official said that “the number of Palestinian workers in Israel and in the Jewish communities across Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] will stand at approximately 136,000 after the current addition.” Currently, he said, some 90,000 Palestinians work in Israel and a further 30,000 who work in settlements.

Alian noted that the Israeli defense establishment would “complete preparations” to ensure that checkpoints will be able to handle the increased traffic of Palestinians to and from Israel.

He added that in light of the talks between Gantz and Abbas, additional steps designed to strengthen economic ties between Israel and the P.A. are expected.

JNS

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