COGAT authorized the increased quota of Palestinian laborers employed in groves and orchards in Israel by a further 1000 laborers. The increased quota was authorized following an application by Israeli farmers with a demand for "working hands" and this in light of an increase in the quantity and quality of agricultural produce this year.
The quota of Palestinian laborers employed in Israel will now stand at 41750, this in addition to approximately another 24000 Palestinian workers employed in Israeli settlements and in industrial areas in Judea and Samaria (a laborer employed by an Israeli employer earns on average 2.5 times more). The quota of laborers for work in groves and orchards which will stand at 4250 will be effective from next Monday, October 15, 2012 until May 31, 2013.
This alleviating measure joins a long list of various initiatives authorized for the welfare of the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria.
In the field of travel and accessibility: eight internal roadblocks and dirt blockades have been removed (the "Shomronim", Bet Djan, Northern Entrance to Jericho, Zavta, "Ariel-Salafit", Izbat Shufa, The Old Route 60, and the East Bet Anun Junction). In addition, there are currently only 13 internal crossings in Judea and Samaria that operate as 'normally open' and are active only during times of security alerts or special events.
Regarding the crossings: infrastructure improvements and renovations costing NIS 10 million, have been carried out at the Allenby Bridge (NIS 6 million of which was financed by COGAT and NIS 4 million by the Airports Authority). In addition to the renovations of the Bridge, significant alleviating measures have been implemented at the Kalandia Crossing such as the early opening of the Crossing at 4:00, the opening of all five security check sleeves and provision of assistance in the transfer of special populations (medical teams, humanitarian, and students).
In the infrastructures field: the number of electric connections to Tulkarm was increased by 100 amperes and to Jenin by 7 mega-watts. In addition, renovations were made to the Adam-Hizme Route and others in the Bethlehem sector.
All these initiatives join the significant alleviating measures and steps implemented during the month of Ramadan, during which in excess of 200000 permits were issued to more than a million Muslim worshippers at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. In addition, the operating hours of all the crossings in the Jerusalem Area sector and at other crossings were extended in order to enable departures for family visits.
As a continuation to the measures adopted during the month of Ramadan, COGAT is currently planning the expansion of the initiatives for the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria ahead of the Eid al Adha (Sacrifice) Festival which will take place on October 26, 2012.