An agreement between the Israeli and Chinese governments 18 months ago to bring some 20,000 Chinese workers to help build homes has been hit by rising diplomatic tensions following the deaths of two Chinese workers this year.
The concerns over safety have prompted Beijing to veto its workers’ participation on 36 Israeli projects.
An Israeli deputy ambassador in Beijing was summoned to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce after a Chinese building worker was killed on a site in Jerusalem earlier this month, according to sources quoted in Hebrew language website TheMarker, and reported in the Haaretz newspaper.
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry confirmed that China was concerned about worker safety, but said the death "wasn’t the main topic of the discussions".
Ten of the projects blacklisted by Beijing have been in the town of Rosh Ha’ayin, eight are in Jerusalem, three are in Tel Aviv and two are in Ashkelon. The others are in single sites in towns across Israel.
As part of the agreement China does not allow its workers to work on sites in the Occupied Territories or East Jerusalem.
Two Chinese workers have been killed so far this year, and two others died in 2017.
A 2016 report prepared for the Israeli Economy and Industry Ministry and National Insurance Institute estimated that fatal accidents at Israeli sites occurred at twice the rate as they do in the EU. In the previous 15 years, some 500 constructions workers have been killed.
Image: On 17 August last year, three workers were killed on Israeli sites within five hours of each other (Group for the Prevention of Building Accidents)