By Zain Khalil
JERUSALEM (AA) – The Israeli government on Sunday granted 15,000 work permits for Palestinians from the West Bank to work in the construction sector.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the granting of 15,000 work permits was done in cooperation with the housing, finance, defense and regional cooperation ministries.
"This is an important step that will strengthen the Palestinian and Israeli economies and our shared interests," Gantz tweeted.
On Wednesday, Israel's military liaison office to the Palestinians, known as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), said it will approve 15,000 work permits for Palestinians in the construction field and another 1,000 work permits in the hotel industry.
The Israeli announcement was preceded by a phone talk between Gantz and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last week.
As of the first quarter of 2021, the number of Palestinian workers in Israel reached 138,000, according to official estimates. Labor institutions, however, say the number exceeds 180,000.
*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara