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Saudi Arabia’s opening of jobs to Palestinians from Israel is a cynical political move

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Saudi Arabia has announced that Palestinian citizens of Israel are going to be allowed to work in the Kingdom. Such an arrangement will require coordination between Riyadh and Tel Aviv which, in turn, means even further normalisation between the two countries.

Israel’s economic magazine Globes broke this story late last month, in the context of improving relations with Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom regards Arab graduates of Israeli universities as valued professionals who might be attracted by the Saudi Shura Council’s approval of the “Privileged Iqama [work permit]” scheme to attract those with engineering and investment experience. The Saudis want to diversify their economy by opening up to investments and trade to non-Saudi citizen and develop the private sector.

While the decision did not mention Palestinian-Israelis specifically, it did not exclude citizens of any particular state. Since Israeli-Saudi relations have grown recently, it is clear that the decision includes such Palestinians. The government in Riyadh has not denied this.

The Kingdom does not need Palestinian workers from Israel, as it uses cheap labour from Asia. While it does need foreign expertise, it is worth noting that the Saudi offer is not necessarily particularly tempting, as the economic situation in Israel is better. Nevertheless, although the Saudi employment system imposes fees and taxes on workers, and Riyadh is experiencing problems with its neighbours, some Palestinians in Israel are still interested in working there. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, unemployment amongst its Arab citizens who might be affected by the Saudi decision stands at 5 per cent.

READ: Resisting normalisation harms the........

© Middle East Monitor