Construction Minister Uri Ariel is pushing a plan to grant permits that will allow Gazan construction workers to be employed in Israel for the first time since 2006.

Ariel wants to grant an additional 15,000 permits to Palestinian workers in two stages, with 8,000 in the first phase.

“We are in favor of part of the workers coming from Gaza. How many and how is up to the Defense Ministry,” a spokesman for Ariel told The Jerusalem Post.

The ministry is responsible for running background checks and issuing permits for security purposes.

Israel has a shortage of construction workers, and relies on cheap, foreign guest laborers for about a quarter of its construction. Although China is a popular source, it has been stalling on granting new permits.

“The Gazan workers are good construction workers and many of them are better than the ones in Judea and Samaria,” the spokesman said, adding that such a move also could help alleviate some of the misery in Gaza.

“The regular people in Gaza don’t need to suffer because of what Hamas does.”

The government, however, has not taken up the plan, and does not intend to do so until the recent wave of terrorism in Jerusalem calms down.

Ariel believes that the pace of construction – which has slowed in recent months, even as demand for apartments rages – will pick up once housing schemes such as the zero value-added tax plan and price-targeting proposal are in place.

The Bank of Israel has consistently argued that steps must be taken to increase the housing supply if prices are to come down to affordable levels.

Of the 57,000 Palestinian workers employed in Israel today – about half of whom work in West Bank settlements – 37,000 have permits for construction work.

Another 34,000 are estimated to work in the country illegally.