Israel to begin hiring Indians to replace Palestinian workers from Dec 27

The largest group of about 80K workers in the construction industry comes from West Bank and another 17K from Gaza, a huge majority of whom had their work permits revoked following the Hamas attack on Israel in October.

New Delhi : A team of “selectors” from Israel visited India last week and another senior delegation will leave for India next week to start the process of recruiting thousands of workers to be brought to the country to fill in the acute shortage faced by its construction industry, a senior executive at the Israel Builders Association said on Wednesday.

“We will start the process in Delhi and Chennai next week on December 27. At the moment we are looking to bring in 10,000 as per government approvals and this will scale up to 30,000 in the near future depending on how it goes. It is an ongoing exercise and will take months,” Deputy Director General and Spokesperson for the Israel Builders Association (IBA), Shay Pauzner, told PTI.

“The selection starting next week will last 10-15 days,” Pauzner said.

A delegation led by Izchak Gurvitz, who heads the IBA’s division dealing with workers’ issues and the selection team, was in India last week and would be joining CEO Igal Slovik again next week with other members of the IBA team, he said.

Director General of the Ministry of Construction and Housing Yehuda Morgenstern will also be accompanying the delegation leaving for India next week.

During a telephonic conversation with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “discussed advancing the arrival of foreign workers from India to the State of Israel”, the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel said in a statement.

“We urgently need more workers. In any case, the government is the one who will decide where the missing workers will come from,” Pauzner had told PTI last month.

The Israeli construction industry employs workers in specific fields where there is a lack of Israeli workers.

Israel urgently needs workers to continue with construction projects and the contractors have made a strong plea with the government to bring in hundreds of thousands of people from abroad to meet the needs.

The largest group of about 80,000 workers in the construction industry comes from the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank and another 17,000 from the Gaza Strip, a huge majority of whom had their work permits revoked following the Hamas attack on Israel in October.

Another group of about 7,000 have come from China and some 6,000 from Eastern Europe. The ongoing war has created a shortage of workers.

Israel’s Minister of Economy Nir Barkat had discussed the possibility of bringing workers from India to fill the need in Israel’s infrastructure industry during his India visit in April this year.

“Israel’s Minister of Economy, Nir Barkat, during his trip to India in April this year had spoken to officials and his counterpart in New Delhi about hiring Indians in various sectors, including in the construction sector,” a source here had told PTI.

“The discussions revolved around bringing in almost like 160,000 people,” he said.

About 18,000 Indians are working in Israel, mostly as caregivers. Most of them decided to stay back in Israel and did not leave the country during the war with Hamas because “they felt quite secure” and “also because the salaries are quite attractive”.

Israel and India also inked an agreement in May during Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s visit to New Delhi that will allow 42,000 Indian workers to work in the Jewish state in the fields of construction and nursing, a move that was then seen to help deal with the rising cost of living and assist thousands of families waiting for nursing care.

A statement released by the Israeli Foreign Ministry then said that 34,000 workers would be engaged in the construction field and another 8,000 for nursing needs. ( With PTI inputs )


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