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Israel hopes quota on migrant workers will bring Israelis more jobs

January 24, 2010. Haaretz: Dana Weiler-Polak

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Sunday presented a plan to limit the number of migrant workers permitted in Israel, saying the move would open up 30,000 to 50,000 jobs in the Israeli market within a year.

The plan was presented after the government on Sunday approved a decision to impose harsher penalties on Israelis who employ or transport migrant workers.

"The massive entry of migrant workers into Israel in recent years has created problems with security, drugs and, mainly, in the job market and decreased wages," said Netanyahu.

He added that these problems prevent the government from caring for its own impoverished citizens, who Netanyahu said must enter the job market in order to improve their standard of living.

"The migrant workers are a weight that push salaries lower. We are talking about damage to our society and an additional aspect of Israel as a Jewish state," said Netanyahu.

The prime minister and Steinitz stressed that the new plan does not resolve the issue of the status of migrant workers' children, many of whom were born in Israel but face deportation, or the issue of refugees who come to Israel seeking asylum.

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