Up to 6,000 Israeli textile jobs could be lost in the next two years the worried chairman of the textile and fashion division of the Manufacturers Association, Ramzi Gabai, warned on Friday.

Gabai said that around 300 jobs would shortly be axed at two textile plants and admitted other textile producers are considering reducing their operations in the near future.

According to Gabai, around 60 Israeli textile firms shifted their manufacturing operations overseas last year, while investment in the industry plunged 52 per cent, exports nine per cent to $1.1 billion and sales slipped four per cent to $2.6bn.

He added that in the past five years the number of people employed in textiles in Israel had fallen to 31,000 from 45,000, with 3,000 redundancies last year alone.

He called on the government to reverse the trend by helping cover wage costs, reducing the minimum wage in some sectors for a short time and imposing a levy on textile imports from the Far East.