Accessibility links

Israel Plans to Reduce Number of Palestinian Workers - 2003-12-21


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's controversial plan for unilateral separation calls for reducing the number of Palestinian workers allowed to enter the Jewish State. The Sharon "Disengagement Plan" to cut off Israel from Palestinians will have a strong economic impact as well as political implications.

At a security conference in Israel last week, Mr. Sharon threatened to carry out his plan within months if no progress is made with Palestinians on the international "road map" peace plan.

Under his initiative, the number of Palestinians issued permits to enter Israel from the West Bank and Gaza Strip for work would be greatly curtailed.

Instead, he would encourage Palestinians in the West Bank to find work in neighboring Jordan. Palestinians living in Gaza would need to seek work in Egypt, which borders the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Sharon said his plan is designed to reduce friction between Israelis and Palestinians. At the same time, he said he wants the Palestinians to develop their own economy and reduce their economic dependence on Israel.

Mr. Sharon said Israel will work in co-ordination with Jordan and Egypt for what he called "the freer passage of people and goods through the international crossings, while implementing the required security measures."

The Palestinian leadership has rejected Mr. Sharon's plan, saying negotiations between the two sides are the only way to reach a permanent settlement of the conflict.

Despite such strong opposition, his proposals are expected to be raised in talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Mahar, who is due to arrive Monday in Israel.

Mr. Maher and high-ranking Israeli officials are expected to discuss ways to bolster the Palestinian economy, which has been hard hit in recent years by violence and Israeli military closures of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

XS
SM
MD
LG