Steinitz: Gov't will reduce foreign workers by 30-50,000
"The government has reached a decision to whose goal is to deal with the matter of illegal foreign workers in the country." said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a special press conference today in Jerusalem. He added that the country would continue to receive refugees, but that foreign workers did not fall under the moral criteria that lead to accepting other refugees.
Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz also promised that a government's clampdown on foreign workers would be implemented adopted. "The cabinet listened to the OECD's harsh criticisms. We're talking about 300,000 foreign workers; we're at the top of the list, after Austria."
Steinitz estimated that the government's new plan will reduce the number of foreign workers by 30,000-50,000 this year, which would create jobs for Israelis and reduce the level of unemployment. "In this way we can return to the pre-crisis level of unemployment. We must protect our national home."
The plan calls for the illegal employment of a foreign worker to lead to an automatic criminal indictment and minimum fines of NIS 10,000 for an individual employer and NIS 25,000 for a company, for each illegal foreign worker. The fine will be multiplied in accordance with the number of times the offence of employing an illegal foreign worker has been repeated. In addition, anyone who employs illegal foreign workers will have their permit for employing legal foreign workers revoked.
In a speech last week, Netanyahu spoke strongly against foreign workers, claiming that Israel's cities were becoming unrecognizable. Today, he said, "The massive influx of foreign workers creates a slew of problems: security, drug smuggling, and human trafficking."
Netanyahu reiterated his plan to reduce the influx of foreign workers to Israel, saying, "This plan is also intended to deal with the labor market. Our first commitment is to the poor of our nation. We can't encourage the haredim (ultra-orthodox) and Arabs [to work] while at the same allowing the entry of illegal foreign workers.
"This massive influx is eroding wages. There is another aspect as well - the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. We want to ensure that we'll continue to be a Jewish state, but with full rights for non-Jews; in other words, to allow those citizens to find work and earn a dignified salary."
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