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.
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.
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
He is also scheduled during his visit to tour the Old City,
Masada and the Dead Sea, and attend mass on Christmas Eve in
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
Corlatean has scheduled a meeting with representatives of
the Romanian Jewish community living in Israel.