By Aviv Acco, Research Associate|

For the first time, the Israeli government is expected to approve the employment of hundreds of Palestinian workers in Israeli high-tech in the coming week. At this stage, the number of quotas is limited due to the fear of harming the employment of Israeli workers from minority groups, mainly from Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities.

According to the plan, which will be implemented over three years, those workers must earn a salary that is not less than 150% of the average wage in the economy.

The program is promoted by the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, in collaboration with other ministries, including security, the economy, the interior and science. The plan will be approved by the government in parallel with another plan to increase quotas for Palestinian workers employed in manufacturing and services (8,550 workers) and in the Atarot industrial zone (3,600 workers).

Issawi Frej, Minister of Regional Cooperation mentioned that:

“The move seeks to open the gates not only to low-wage service and industry workers, but also to white-collar workers in the high-tech industry who suffer from a severe shortage of professional manpower.”

The plan doesn’t only promote minimizing the underrepresentation gap within the high-tech industry in Israel but also promotes creating and building interpersonal relationships between Israelis and Palestinians.

UPDATE: On November 7, 2021, Israel’s cabinet approved granting permits to Palestinian workers in the tech sector. In practice, this means that at the current pilot phase, 500 Palestinian programmers and engineers living in Judea and Samaria will be able to come to their job in Israel every day and become rank and file employees in Israel’s high-tech industry. The prevailing wage requirement is a monthly salary of at least NIS 17,000.

Although this is positive news, senior executives in the tech sector in the Palestinian Authority find it difficult to welcome the plan.

“There is no high-tech unemployment in the Palestinian Authority. There is no employable worker who is not already employed. We have more demand for high-tech employees than supply and we work hard with the universities and training institutes to keep up with demand. If anything, the plan will cannibalize Palestinian high-tech with the best moving from one company to another for a higher salary.” Tareq Maayah is CEO of Exalt Technologies, a company based in Ramallah.