update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Likud lawmakers to government: Keep Palestinian workers out

"The time has come to say explicitly that no more Palestinian workers will be allowed to enter Israel," urged the legislators.

Palestinian workers enter the Israeli town of Ma’aleh Adumim following an attempted stabbing attack, Feb. 23, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.
Palestinian workers enter the Israeli town of Ma’aleh Adumim following an attempted stabbing attack, Feb. 23, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.

Palestinian laborers from Judea and Samaria should not be allowed to return to work across the Green Line inside Israel’s pre-1967 territory, a dozen Likud lawmakers wrote in a letter to Cabinet members made public on Wednesday.

“The time has come to say explicitly that no more Palestinian workers will be allowed to enter Israel,” read the letter, which received backing from Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat and Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli.

“Besides our security obligation, we also have a moral duty—we are not responsible for the livelihood of those who support the murder of Jews in the Land of Israel,” added the missive, noting that some three in four Arab residents of Judea and Samaria hold favorable views of Hamas in the wake of its Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 people in Israel.

On Saturday night, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Jerusalem is considering a pilot to admit Palestinian workers aged 45 and older who have undergone screening and hold existing entry permits.

“The military pressure in Judea and Samaria, along with the pictures from Gaza and the Israel Defense Forces’ successes in Gaza, create a strong motivation on the ground to carry out terror attacks,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told journalists at a press conference on Monday.

“The way to drain these things is through creating valves that will allow for work and livelihood for the civilians in Judea and Samaria,” claimed Gallant, adding that both Arabs and Jews will live in the disputed territories “for the years to come.”

Gallant spoke after an Israeli woman in her 70s was killed and several others were wounded in a combined car-ramming and stabbing attack in the city of Ra’anana. The terrorists, residents of Bani Naim near Hebron in Judea, reportedly worked in the city’s industrial area without valid work permits. Both suspects were known to security forces.

Before Oct. 7, Israel provided work permits for tens and thousands of Palestinians to enter Israel, including from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. According to reports, some of them carried out reconnaissance for the terror group in preparation for the murder onslaught.

Thousands of foreign workers have fled Israel since the start of the war. At the same time, many Israelis have been called up for military service.

In late October, Jerusalem authorized the entry of 8,000 workers from Judea and Samaria amid a “severe” shortage of labor due to the war.

With the approval of security services, Palestinian workers were dispatched to “vital” industrial areas, food factories, medical facilities and burial societies, an official told JNS at the time.

Palestinians from Judea and Samaria have also been hired to work at hotels across Israel, including in some that are housing evacuees from communities along the Gaza border that Hamas attacked on Oct. 7.

The plan to let in even more Palestinian workers has previously also met with opposition from Minister-without-Portfolio Gideon Sa’ar and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

“I am against the entry of thousands of workers from the [Palestinian] Authority who may endanger civilian lives,” Ben-Gvir, who oversees the police, tweeted on Oct. 22.

“Letting workers from the territory of an enemy population into Israel during a war is a terrible mistake that will cost blood,” Sa’ar charged earlier this week.

In a December vote, the measure was opposed by almost all 15 members of the Socioeconomic Cabinet, which is smaller than the full government but includes the finance and economy ministers. Only Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter and Labor Minister Yoav Ben-Tzur abstained, reports said.

This week, the Ministry of Agriculture published a tender for agricultural farms that did not employ foreign workers in the past to bring in laborers from abroad, Channel 14 reported on Tuesday.

As part of the pilot program, 1,000 foreign workers will be allocated to farms throughout the Jewish state.

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