Some 800 employees of Turkey's Yılmazlar Holdings stand to lose their jobs in Israel due to the conflict between the two states, the construction company said Sunday.
Turkey and Israel's governments signed an agreement in 2003 by which Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will sell security and industrial equipment to Turkey and in exchange allow Yilmazlar to keep employees in Israel.
The agreement is usually renewed each January 1, but the rising tension between the two countries has caused the Turkish government to delay its answer this year, and it has not yet renewed the deal. If it does not do so by the first of the month Yilmazlar's employees will effectively become illegal residents.
"I have been working in Israel for 15 years. I live in Ramat Gan and feel totally at home here. I love Israel," says Ahmet Arık, Yilmazlar's director in Israel.
"Our employees make a living here and that's good for relations between the two countries, but now everything has been thrown into uncertainty. We are still working on projects we have already begun here, worth hundreds of millions of shekels, but we haven't signed anything new. The employees are really scared, they keep asking what will happen if they are deported?"
Yilmazlar operates in Turkey, Israel, and Romania. It has been in business in Israel for over 20 years. Some of the company's Turkish officials are involved in politics, and most object to the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, they accuse him of harming their business.
Ahmet Reyiz Yılmaz, the company's CEO, has filed a lawsuit against Erdogan's government, claiming his prevocational rhetoric was costing him millions.
Yilmazlar is currently involved in a number of projects in Israel, including the YOU buildings, Azrieli Towers, and Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv as well as Israel Museum's new wing and Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.
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