Gov't increasing number of permits for Palestinians

Social-economic cabinet expected to approve another 5,000 work permits for Palestinian agricultural and construction workers.

Construction worker in West Bank 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Construction worker in West Bank 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The government’s social-economic cabinet was expected late Sunday night in a telephone vote to approve the issuance of another 5,000 work permits.
The permits would be for Palestinian agricultural and construction workers, and will bring to some 46,450 the number of available permits.
Last week, the Foreign Ministry issued a report saying that Israel had increased the number of work permits for Palestinians since February 2011 by some 40 percent.
The report, issued for Sunday’s Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, or donor’s conference for the Palestinian Authority, meeting in New York, said that some 32,000 Palestinians earn their living in Israel and another 27,750 Palestinians work for Israeli employers in the West Bank.
One government official said the newest decision to increase the number of permits comes against the backdrop of the economic crisis in the West Bank, which two weeks ago led to violent protests. The official said it was not in Israel’s interest to see the economic collapse of the PA, and that providing more employment for Palestinians inside Israel would help the Palestinian economic situation.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in his Rosh Hashana interview with The Jerusalem Post, said, “I don’t think anyone looking at this rationally would want an economic collapse [of the PA] that would lead to a takeover [by] Iran’s proxy [Hamas] in the suburbs of Jerusalem.”
Netanyahu said that with the political and economic instability in the PA, “you might get what you got in Gaza, and that is Hamas.”
While the PA and the World Bank charge that Israeli curbs on Palestinian development in Area C (under full Israeli control) of the West Bank, approximately 62% of its territory, the Foreign Ministry report lists a number of measures the government has taken recently to improve the PA’s economic outlook. These steps include the following:
• Agreement on discussions regarding the development of the Gaza marine gas field that “could contributed dramatically to Palestinian fiscal sustainability.”
• An agreement signed in July by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to facilitate the movement of goods between Israel and the PA, and support efforts by both sides to reduce illegal trade and tax evasion.
• Advanced a NIS 180 million payment of PA tax revenues collected by Israel to Ramallah on the eve of Ramadan in July to enable the PA to pay salaries on time, and two weeks ago advanced another NIS 250m. after violent economic protests broke out.