• Israel requests Indian workers to replace thousands of Palestinian workers whose work permits were revoked after 7 October attacks

NEW DELHI (Agencies): Major trade unions in India have called on their government to scrap an agreement with Israel that will allow tens of thousands of Indian workers to replace Palestinian construction workers whose work permits have been revoked since the Israeli war on Gaza started.

The statement, released on behalf of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), the BJP-affiliated Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), and several other Indian union organisations, called for India’s trade union movements to show solidarity with Palestinian workers by refusing to replace them.

“Nothing could be more immoral and disastrous for India than the said ‘export’ of workers to Israel,” the group said in an open letter released 9 November.

“That India is even considering ‘exporting’ workers shows the manner in which it has dehumanized and commodified Indian workers.

“Such [a] step will amount to complicity on India’s part with Israel’s ongoing genocidal war against Palestinians and will naturally have adverse implications for Indian workers in the entire region.”

The announcement comes after Israel revoked the work permits of Palestinian workers after the 7 October attacks in which Hamas killed at least 1,300 Israelis and took over 200 people captive.

Israel has since imposed a total siege on the Gaza Strip and launched a relentless bombing campaign on the enclave, killing over 11,000 people, the vast majority children and women.

The statement follows a request to the Indian government by Israel’s construction sector to allow companies to hire up to 100,000 workers from India to replace 90,000 Palestinians who had lost their work permits, according to a report by Voice of America.

While the deal has yet to be implemented, it is just one example of deepening relations between Israel and India.

On his visit to New Delhi in May, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen signed an agreement with his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, to bring around 42,000 Indian workers to Israel, with 34,000 earmarked for construction and 8,000 in elder care.

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