From Ramallah to Tel Aviv: First-ever high tech work permits for PA residents

High tech permit project marks first time Palestinians can seek Israeli white collar jobs.

By World Israel News Staff

As competition over high tech workers in Israel grows tougher, several lawmakers have floated ideas about wooing highly educated and technically experienced Eastern Europeans and Indians to the Jewish State in order to fill the gap.

But on Sunday, the Israeli government announced that it found a solution for the high tech labor crisis much closer to home.

The government will issue 500 work permits for Palestinian Authority residents, allowing high tech companies based in Israel to employ them as part of a pilot project that’s expected to last for three years.

“This will open the gates not only to low-wage workers, but to white-collar employees in a leading industry,” Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej of the Meretz party said in a statement.

Currently, the Defense Ministry reports that some 130,000 Palestinians hold permits which allow them to work inside Israel and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

The vast majority toil as construction workers and other manual laborers, so the high tech permit project marks the first time that Palestinian Authority residents can seek employment in a white collar setting.

According to a Israel Innovation Authority and Start-Up Nation Central report, some 60 percent of Israeli high tech companies and start-ups said they are having difficulty recruiting employees and filling positions.

Palestinian entrepreneur Mahmoud Khweis told the Times of Israel that Palestinian graduates would be eager to work for Israeli salaries, which are about twice as much as what they could expect to be paid locally.

He said that senior developers based in Tel Aviv typically earn between 30,000 to 45,000 shekels ($9,650 to $14,470) monthly, while salaries for Ramallah-based tech workers doing the same job would probably tap at around $14,000 ($4,500).

“The salaries that those Palestinian programmers get are quite low, and the working conditions could be better, to put it politely,” Khewis said.