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March 1996, Volume 3, Number 3

Israel's Foreign Workers

Labor contractors will have to renew their permits for foreign workers during 1996. Half of the 51,000 permits for foreign construction workers will be renewed for the first six months of the year and the other half will be extended until the end of 1996. The Israeli Employment Service plans to study if the continued employment of so many foreign workers is justified.

Israel's Labor and Social Affairs Minister has announced a plan to tighten the criteria for importing workers from the Philippines and to crack down on people who illegally employ them after repeated complaints of abuse. The action was taken after a sharp rise the number of requests for workers in December 1995. There were 930 requests instead of the average of 150 in 1994. The ministry has seen a gradual increase in monthly requests for Filipino workers who care for invalids. At the current rate, their number could exceed 12,000 a year.

An Israeli government document said that there are 100,000 foreigners working illegally in Israel. This number does not include Palestinians for the West Bank or Gaza who are working in Israel without permission. The Interior Ministry has decided to issue newly licensed foreign workers with a special identity card.

Israel received 77,000 immigrants in 1995, down from 80,000 in 1994--22,750 from Ukraine and 19,500 from Russia.

Some 609,000 people moved to Israel from the former Soviet Union since Moscow changed its emigration policies in 1989. There are about 13 million Jews worldwide; half are in North America.

"More than 100,000 illegal workers in Israel," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 19, 1996. Michael Yudelman, "Namir will restrict Philippine workers," Jerusalem Post, January 10, 1996. Michael Yudelman, "Labor Ministry to tighten supervision of foreign workers," Jerusalem Post, January 9, 1996.