Israel Issues 5,000 New Palestinian Work Permits

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- In yet another goodwill gesture to its negotiating partners, Israel issued 5,000 new work permits for Palestinian Arabs residing in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).

The work permits will allow Israeli companies to hire additional Arab workers, especially in the construction and agriculture sectors -- providing much needed employment for Palestinians in the West Bank.

"Once the Israeli Jewish New Year festival is over, the Israeli government will issue 5,000 new work permits for West Bankers," Shaher Sa'ad, P.A. trade and labor minister told the Gulf News. "We have a solid promise from the Israeli side to issue those work permits once the Israeli officials recommence work after the festival."

Before the second intifada (2000 - 2004), nearly 120,000 Palestinian Arabs were gainfully employed by Israeli companies. That number dropped drastically as suicide bombings took their toll on buses, in restaurants, outdoor markets and other venues where people shopped and traveled.

Today, an estimated 32,000 Palestinian Arabs work for Israeli companies within the pre-1967 borders and nearly 28,000 are employed by Israelis in Judea and Samaria.

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