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Israel to Import Foreign Labor for Negev Construction Work

December 6, 1978
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel intends to import foreign labor for construction work in the Negev following the signing of a peace treaty with Egypt and withdrawal from Sinai, it was reported today. It will supplement such labor with workers from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but it has rejected bringing in any labor force from Egypt.

These are the recommendations of a report recently completed by a special committee of the Department of Labor and Social Welfare, to give on overview of the labor force available for the eventual mass construction work to be completed in the Negev region. The recommendations will be submitted to Eliyahu Ben-Elissar, head of the government’s committee on autonomy, in the next few days, and if accepted, they will be passed on to the government.

The committee predicted that nearly 8000 professional and non-professional workers will be needed for work in the Negev, most of them in construction. In light of that fact, the committee has been examining various alternatives for increasing the labor force for the extensive work expected.

It rejected the obvious utilization of the peace ties with Egypt and the potential employment of Egyptian laborers in the Negev, explaining that bringing in Egyptian labor could flood the Israeli market with cheap labor. It also declined to utilize Israeli laborers, nothing that previous efforts to attract Israelis away from the service sector into construction and industry had failed miserably.

Therefore, the committee is recommending the import of 4000-5000 workers from Mediterranean countries, notably Cyprus, Greece, Yugoslavia and Turkey. The cost of maintaining such a labor force is estimated at IL 1000 per day per person, taking into account partial payment in foreign currency, transportation to and from their homelands, upkeep and other miscellaneous expenses.

The committee also recommended the employment of workers from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, some 60,000 of whom are presently employed in Israel. It noted that another 3000 could be found for employment in the Negev region, but only after extensive recruiting efforts were conducted in the territories, particularly in the high schools.

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