JERUSALEM—Palestinian engineers can provide a partial solution to Israel’s hi-tech manpower shortage, Major General Yoav (Poli) Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told the Globes Israel Business Conference Thursday.
“Every year, some 2,700 (Palestinian) students complete their computer studies and around 70 percent of them can’t find work. There are already hundreds of Palestinians working on joint projects with Israeli hi-tech companies… They can be of huge help to us,” Mordechai said as he reviewed the economic situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian territories.
Saying that the IDF viewed the economic situation as a major part of its security perspective, Mordechai added that Israel was planning to allow another 7,500 Palestinian laborers into Israel to work in the construction sector, in addition to thousands more in other sectors.
“We see the Palestinian economy as a component of our national security,” Mordechai said. “The most important thing is direct security, arrest and operations, but we also look at the economic component as a stabilizing factor.”
Mordechai said, however, that domestic Israeli issues and diplomatic ties with other countries who send guest workers to Israel were preventing further employment of Palestinians despite what he said was huge demand for their services. “Almost every person I talk to, be it from the hotel sector, services or industry, wants to see an increase in the number of Palestinian workers,” he said.
Mordechai added that there was also growing realization in the West of the importance of the economy as a stabilizing factor for Palestinians, along with a realization that aid money was being used to fund a bloated public system and even to finance payments for the relatives of terrorists.
“I met with three European foreign ministers this week – the Irish, Norwegian and Dutch – and most of our conversation focused on economics, on industrial zones and Palestinian development as stabilizing factors,” he said.