POSTED: 2:15 a.m. HST, Nov 27, 2012
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Israel's envoy to the Philippines said Tuesday that he will ask the government to lift a ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Israel following the end of heavy fighting between Israeli and Hamas forces.
Ambassador Menashe Bar-on said that the Philippines' ban is unnecessary because the situation in Israel was returning to normal after a cease-fire agreement last week.
"We are confident that foreigners will feel safe" in Israel, he told The Associated Press.
He said he was scheduled to meet with foreign affairs officials on Wednesday. "We hope that this ban will be lifted," he said.
Overseas workers provide one of the largest sources of foreign revenue for the Philippines.
Bar-on said there are more than 40,000 Filipinos in Israel, mostly employed as caregivers, who have access to bunker-like protection against rocket attacks. The Philippine government says there are also about 120 Filipinos in Gaza.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration banned the deployment of workers to Israel because of the conflict, but it made its decision after Wednesday's cease-fire. It imposed a total deployment ban on Gaza.
Bar-on said Israel is a preferred overseas destination for Filipino workers because of the high pay as well as the social security and medical benefits available to foreign workers.
The Philippine government had planned to evacuate Filipinos trapped in Gaza and Israel during the fighting, but only 11 from Gaza wanted to leave. In the end, no one left because of the cease-fire.
Bar-on said Hamas allegedly prevented foreigners from leaving Gaza "to use them as human shields"
Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario last week said that he had received no information that Filipinos were being used as human shields.
The Israeli ambassador also said he hopes the Philippines will not vote in support of a U.N. resolution raising the Palestinian status at the United Nations from an observer to a nonmember observer state because "it will not change the status on the ground."