Due to a lack of Israeli workers, the cabinet on Sunday approved a proposal by Tourism Minister Uzi Landau and Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar to employ up to 1,500 Jordanian daytime workers in Eilat hotels.

The first phase of employment is to begin with the hiring of 500 Jordanian workers and is to be followed by two more phases, after an advisory committee is established to decide how many Jordanians can be hired and when they can begin working.

“We are under severe pressure by the shortage of manpower in Eilat – especially in the summer season,” said Eilat Hotel Association CEO Shabtai Shay. Being able to employ Jordanians “will make our lives much easier,” he said.

The Jordanians will work only during the day – crossing the border in the morning and returning to Jordan in the evening.

“I’ve done everything in my power to employ Israelis,” Shay said. “We offer special benefits; we offer higher salaries…but we were unable to employ Israelis.”

The association has tried many ways to fill the need for workers, he said, including temporarily employing migrants from Sudan. However, a change in national policy caused those workers to be held in detention camps.

Employing Jordanians, Shay said, will also benefit the political relationship between Israel and Jordan.

“I think that the Israeli government took a very important decision this morning – a decision which indicates regional economic cooperation, because we now will have 1,500 Jordanians working in Eilat enjoying the benefits,” he said. Tourism, Shay said, is what supports Eilat’s economy, so having workers is vital to keep it going.

Eli Gonen, president of the Israel Hotel Association, agreed this is great news and thanked Tourism Minister Landau for the proposal.

“The decision today is a signal to us that the government is not ignoring the contribution of the tourism industry to the economy and employment, and I hope now the industry will address other issues at hand, such as reinforcing the marketing of Israel in the world,” Gonen said.


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