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All government offices will be closed to the public today due to a strike called by the government employees union over the provision of banking services to civil servants.

According to Ariel Yaacobi, the head of the civil servants union, the cause of the strike is the Finance Ministry's refusal to change the tender as the union demands.

Yaacobi said yesterday that no negotiations were conducted between the sides to prevent the strike yesterday since the treasury's accountant general, Yaron Zelekha, is in Canada. Zelekha is in charge of the banking tender and responsible for the negotiations.

Yaacobi called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson yesterday to call Zelekha back to Israel to settle the dispute immediately.

Among the services that will be unavailable today are the issuance of passports and identity cards by the Interior Ministry, the registration of property in the Lands Registry as well as employment office services. However, the head of the Employment Service said the unemployed would not lose any of their rights or benefits due to the strike.

The National Insurance Institute offices as well as vehicle and drivers' license facilities will also be closed. The administration of the courts will handle only urgent matters, but judges will continue to conduct trials.

The union will decide today whether to continue the strike on Sunday.