18 June 2019 - 16 Sivan 5779 - ט"ז סיון ה' אלפים תשע"ט

Israel’s government has finally signed a long-awaited agreement with the Chinese Ministry of Trade and the Chinese association of contractors to bring many thousands of Chinese construction workers to Israel, the Ministry of Construction and Housing announced in January.

An Israeli delegation that recently visited China to conclude the agreement was headed by Israel’s Finance Ministry’s housing chief, Avigdor Yitzhaki, and the Construction and Housing Ministry’s director-general, Asher Armoni. They met with representatives of China’s Ministry of Commerce. An official ceremony is scheduled to take place later this month.

Jewish Times Asia first reported in September 2015 that Israel was looking to hire 20,000 Chinese construction workers, mostly for the housing sector. At the time, the two countries lacked any official formal agreement related to such co-operation. In general, Chinese workers are brought into Israel under private contracts between Israeli and Chinese companies.

Israel’s construction sector currently employs 216,000 workers, including 37,000 Palestinians and 6,000 foreigners, with some 3,700 Chinese. The Finance Ministry said the lack of skilled Israeli and Palestinian construction workers, as well as the instability in employing Palestinians – whose permits can be revoked due to the security situation – have created a shortage of workers.

This new agreement paves the way for the 20,000 quota, with 6,000 workers slated to arrive in the first six months of 2017. “After more than 18 months of effort, I am glad that our representatives signed an agreement to bring thousands of Chinese workers as a catalyst for a solution to the housing crisis,” commented Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon.

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