Pilot program to see Moroccan workers in Israel

Israel suffers from a shortage of both construction workers and caregivers for the elderly and the infirm, most of whom are foreign workers.

View of the construction site of 'Mechir Lamishtaken' at Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem on January 28, 2019. (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
View of the construction site of 'Mechir Lamishtaken' at Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem on January 28, 2019.
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

Moroccan construction workers and caregivers will work in Israel as part of a pilot project, Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced on Tuesday.

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Shaked spoke to the press following her talks in Rabat with Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita. Earlier, she held a working meeting with her Moroccan counterpart, Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit.

Shaked publicly supported Morocco’s claim of sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region, her spokeswoman, Tomer Hassas, told The Media Line.

Supporting Morocco’s claim was the main condition for normalizing ties with Israel in December 2020.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (credit: INTERIOR MINISTRY)Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (credit: INTERIOR MINISTRY)

"Improve the pace of construction in Israel"

Yitzhak Moyal, chairman of the Construction and Wood Workers Union within Israel’s Histadrut labor federation, said, “We’re lacking about 40,000 workers, in 10 different professions. We’re hoping to receive about 15,000 Moroccan construction workers, in a few batches. This could really improve the pace of construction in Israel.

"This could really improve the pace of construction in Israel."

Yitzhak Moyal

“After the peace agreement was signed, the Moroccan government started talking to us. We learned that Morocco has a massive number of professional workers, and we figured out how we can make this work. We’re supposed to send teams to Morocco to test the professionality of the workers,” he said.

The Moroccan workers could begin arriving in Israel by the beginning of 2023, he added.

They would earn higher salaries in Israel, Moyal noted. The average annual salary in Morocco is approximately $11,400, while the minimum wage for construction workers in Israel is almost twice as much.

Israel suffers from a shortage of both construction workers and caregivers for the elderly and the infirm, most of whom are foreign workers. There are about 60,000 caregivers in the country, mostly from East Asia. There are about 100,000 foreign construction workers, coming chiefly from the West Bank, Thailand, and China.

Before she flew to Morocco on Monday, Shaked said in a statement, “We are certain that this cooperation with the Moroccans will help us advance the housing market and also support the elderly population in Israel.”

In her absence, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced he intends to dissolve parliament and schedule early elections. Shaked, a longtime political partner of the prime minister, was updated about the move about 15 minutes before the announcement, and she reportedly implored Bennett to postpone it until her return to Israel.

Shaked’s office told The Media Line she was updated before the announcement but declined to elaborate.

Shaked is the third Israeli minister to visit Morocco in recent months, after Economy Minister Orna Barbivai in February, and Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen in May.

Both women met with Moroccan Industry and Trade Minister Ryad Mezzour and signed bilateral agreements intended to deepen the economic cooperation between the two countries.