Arabs Won’t Lose Jobs in Israel, Despite Jewish Workers’ Demands

An Israeli official assured Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday that they will not be fired from their jobs in Israel.

But a citrus-packing plant in Ashdod that employs Arabs from Gaza was forced to shut down after Jewish workers went on strike to demand that Arab employees with seniority be fired and their jobs given to recently hired Jews.

Such incidents are apparently what prompted Shmuel Goren, coordinator of government activities in the administered territories, to tour various enterprises in Israel employing Arab workers.

He said it was not the government’s intention to bar them from Israel, despite demands from some right-wing politicians and the Gush Emunim settlers movement.

Goren said Arabs could keep their jobs as long as they were hired on an “organized basis,” meaning through the official employment channels.

He said he understood that one out of three or four breadwinners in the territories depends on a job in Israel for his or her livelihood and to deprive the Palestinians of it would impose economic and social hardships.

In Ashdod, meanwhile, the managing director of Jaffa-Mor, Avraham Gil-Or, announced the shut-down, saying the citrus plant could not be run by “mob rule.”

The plant employs 170 workers with seniority, 31 of them Arabs who commute daily from the Gaza Strip.

The workers committee insisted Tuesday that three fork-lift drivers from Gaza who had been absent from their jobs not be allowed to return.

The committee demanded that the jobs be given permanently to the Jewish forklift drivers hired as temporary replacements, even though the Arabs have seniority. The management refused.

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