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New influx of Jordanian workers to palliate Israeli staff shortage

Jerusalem24 – Israel once again opened its southern border on Monday to Jordanian workers who wish to enter and exit Israel on a daily basis.

Up to 2,300 Jordanian workers are expected to cross daily from Aqaba, Jordan to Eilat, Israel, to work in the hotel industry.

The Israeli hotel industry had been “begging for workers” after the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Ynet, after the industry lost thousands of workers who abandoned it and moved to other sectors.

Israeli hotels have trouble finding waitresses, cooks, receptionists, maintenance and security, and have a particularly hard time filling maid and housekeeper positions. “Cleaning in hotels is very hard and abrasive work and, unfortunately, Israelis are not interested in working in it,” Yael Danieli, the general manager of the Israel Hotel Association, told Ynet.

Under an arrangement in place since 2000, Jordanian workers can cross the border into Eilat in southern Israel on a daily basis to work. The number of workers averaged 170 a day until 2014, when a severe shortage of hotel workers led the Israeli Tourism and Interior Ministries to request the government approve the employment of up to 1,500 Jordanian workers in the industry.

Covid-19 measures forced Jordanians to remain in Israel who wished to continue working.

Those measures have now been lifted, according to a statement by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 17 July, which also announced a new quota of up to 2,300 Jordanian workers for Eilat hotels.

The announcement came on the heels of a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and King Abdullah II of Jordan that took place in Amman on 27 July.

Four days later, Lapid announced plans had been finalized between Jordan and Israel for a joint industrial park in Beit She’an, straddling both sides of the Jordanian-Israeli border, just north of the occupied West Bank.

Lapid said of the project that it “advances our economic and political relations, and deepens the peace and friendship between our two countries.”

Jordan signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1994 following the signing of the Oslo Accords. It was the second Arab country to do so after Egypt in 1979.

Jordanians have increasingly rejected their state’s normalization of relations with Israel.

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