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Romanian FM expected to address labor disagreement during visit
By HERB KEINON
22/12/2013
Since 2012, nations have been unable to reach a labor agreement that would govern the employment of Romanian construction workers in Israel.
 
Romania’s Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean arrived Sunday for a four-day visit during which Bucharest’s insistence that Romanian laborers not work beyond the Green Line is expected to be one of the topics of discussion.

Israel and Romania have been unable since 2012 to reach a labor agreement that would govern the employment of Romanian construction workers in Israel, and earlier this month Army Radio reported the reason was Israel’s refusal to sign a commitment that no workers would work beyond the Green Line.

An interministerial committee dealing with the issue of foreign construction workers met recently and decided to step up efforts to make up for the lost Romanian workers by recruiting workers from Moldova and Bulgaria.

Though this has been widely reported as a political row over the settlements, one diplomatic official said it had more to do with Romania’s concern about the safety of their workers employed in the territories than anything else.

In addition to meeting Monday with his counterpart Avigdor Liberman, Corlatean is scheduled to meet President Shimon Peres, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach and opposition head Isaac Herzog.

He is also scheduled during his visit to tour the Old City, Masada and the Dead Sea, and attend mass on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem.

Diplomatic officials said Romania remains one of Israel’s firmest supporters inside the European Union.

The two countries have maintained continuous diplomatic ties since the establishment of the state, and Romania was the only Communist bloc country not to break off ties. Once the Iron Curtain fell, Romania – turning its orientation westward – strengthened its ties considerably with Israel.

Part of the connection between the two countries is historical, with a Jewish community in Romania dating from the 15th century. In 1930, the Jewish community in Romania numbered some 800,000 people, 4.5 percent of the population.

By the end of the Holocaust that number was cut in half to 400,000, and the vast majority of that remnant immigrated to Israel in various waves up to the 1980s. Today, Romanian Jews are the second largest Jewish ethnic community in Israel, after that of Jews from the former Soviet Union.

Corlatean has scheduled a meeting with representatives of the Romanian Jewish community living in Israel.
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