In the wake of the severe labor shortage precipitated by the outbreak of war in Israel, Economy Minister Nir Barkat is spearheading an initiative to bring in 160,000 foreign workers from India as expeditiously as possible. This pivotal move is expected to be presented for government approval in the forthcoming days. The dearth of labor has been a direct consequence of the termination of Palestinian workers' employment in Israel, a predicament that has cast a wide-reaching shadow across various sectors of the economy.

It is estimated that the construction industry alone faces a shortage of approximately 80,000 workers, the agriculture sector grapples with a shortfall of about 15,000 laborers, while the restaurant industry finds itself in need of approximately 24,000 workers, among other affected domains. The acute labor deficiency has caused an almost complete halt in the construction sector. In the restaurant industry, the escalating scarcity of workers has led to the startling reality that the cost of hiring a dishwasher has soared to around 20,000 NIS per month.

Minister Barkat, who embarked on a visit to India a few months ago, has already initiated discussions with the Indian Minister of Economy regarding this crucial matter. Those closely associated with him have underscored the shifting paradigm: "We comprehend that the landscape has undergone a fundamental transformation. No longer will workers from Gaza be a presence in Israel, not even one. We also acknowledge that securing the entry of workers from other parts of the Palestinian territories into Israel will pose considerable challenges. The prevailing order that held sway prior to October 7 has irrevocably shifted. Hence, although this is expected to be a temporary measure, it might also evolve into something more permanent."

Last night, Minister Barkat reached out to Interior Minister Moshe Arbel and Labor Minister Yoav Ben Tzur, urging them to increase the quota of foreign workers. He articulated, "Given the wartime emergency and the most severe and pressing labor shortage afflicting the economy, compounded by the dwindling number of Palestinian workers, we are compelled to urgently augment the quota of foreign workers in Israel. Consequently, under my guidance, we have compiled the requirements of the key industries in the economy, revealing the imperative need for approximately 160,000 foreign workers."

"I beseech you to expedite the deliberation and regulation of this matter within the context of a decision-making proposal that will be submitted for the government's approval, all while concurrently addressing the establishment of international channels for the influx of foreign labor."

Minister Barkat concluded, emphasizing the urgency of government approval, stating, "This approval is indispensable for Israel's economy, ensuring the uninterrupted functionality of our economy and enabling us to embark on the reconstruction and revitalization of our economy immediately upon the cessation of the conflict."

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