Russian President's Visit to Israel Canceled Due to Foreign Ministry Strike

Foreign Ministry workers threatened to cause problems upon Dmitry Medvedev's arrival, so the planned visit was cancelled to avoid an embarrassing diplomatic incident.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is enraged at employees of the Foreign Ministry after Russia and Israel agreed to cancel Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's planned visit to Israel.

The Russians decided to cancel the planned trip that was supposed to occur in two weeks' time, due to fears that Foreign Ministry workers, who are demanding improved salary conditions, would embarrass the Russian president upon his arrival in Israel.

medvedev - AP - December 13 2010

Employees of the Foreign Ministry announced on Sunday that they would 'ruin' the visit of the Russian president, as part of a series of steps they would be taking to secure their improved work conditions.

The workers made clear to the Russians, via the Russian-language Israeli media, which is monitored closely by Moscow, that they would not participate in preparations for Medvedev's visit.

The Russians, who realized that they were facing an embarrassing diplomatic incident, cancelled Medvedev's visit in order to save face. An official Foreign Ministry statement to this effect is expected to be made public by Monday evening.

Foreign Minister Lieberman voiced his intense displeasure with the cancellation of the visit, which held special importance for him, in light of his recent efforts to secure a closer relationship with Russia.

The Foreign Ministry workers' committee responded to the cancellation, saying, "Regretfully, the stupidity and negligence of the Finance Minister and his deputies are harming the national interests and foreign relations of the country. We call upon the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to take responsibility and act immediately to save Israel's Foreign Ministry."

The management of the Foreign Ministry publicized a letter on Sunday announcing that in response to the steps taken by the Foreign Ministry workers, all ministry appointments will be frozen and overtime pay will be suspended until the end of the workers' action.

Foreign Ministry workers have been trying to improve their salaries relative to the pay scale of Defense Ministry and Mossad workers. Foreign Ministry management sketched out a compromise proposal with the Finance Ministry several days ago, in which the salaries of diplomats would increase by between 8% to 10%, on average.

Most of the Foreign Ministry workers that attended a meeting last week voted against the proposed compromise deal and in favor of taking increased steps to disrupt the activities of the Foreign Ministry.