In first, hundreds of Jordanians find employment in Israel

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Jordanians for the first time are being allowed to take jobs in Israel as part of a new pilot program.

About 700 Jordanians have recently found employment in Israel, The Washington Post reported on May 16. The program between Israel and Jordan will allow 1,500 Jordanians to get jobs in Israel, mostly as cleaners in hotels in the southern Israeli city of Eilat.

The southern Israeli city of Eilat. /AFP/Menahem Kahane
The southern Israeli city of Eilat. /AFP/Menahem Kahane

Jewish Israelis vacationing in Eilat said they were surprised to see Jordanian workers in their hotels, and wanted to take selfies with them, the Post reported.

The Jordanian workers are subject to restrictions. They must leave Israel by 8 p.m., can only work as cleaners, not as cooks, waiters or bartenders, and are only allowed to bring one opened pack of cigarettes with them, because the Israeli government doesn’t want them smuggling cigarettes into Israel from Jordan, where cigarettes are significantly cheaper.

Jordan and Israel have been at peace since 1994, but residents often call it a “peace between governments,” not between people. Israelis rarely travel to Jordan, and when they do, they must be accompanied by a member of Jordan’s tourist police as an added precaution.

Jordanians, for the most part, do not go to Israel because the visa process is seen as too expensive and time-consuming. About 60 percent of Jordan’s 6.5 million people are Palestinian or have Palestinian heritage, and Israel routinely denies visas for Palestinians.

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