Israel's Foreign Diplomatic Missions Shuttered as Workers Protest

Peeved by costs of reimbursement dispute, ministry workers resume protests

Israel's Foreign Ministry building, Jerusalem, 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

Israel's overseas diplomatic missions were shut down as of Wednesday morning as employees protested change in the terms of reimbursing costs. Nobody is being allowed into the premises and no services to the general public are being granted.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the Finance Ministry decided "to violate agreements achieved and signed" on July 21, unilaterally deciding to change a procedure that has been in place for decades. The Foreign Ministry operates "day in and day out" to represent Israel and advance its status, it said, but the Finance Ministry leaves it "no choice."

Defense Ministry employees also resumed protested after a retreat in their employment terms. The courts, however, overruled the employees' plan to shut down crossing points to the West Bank and Gaza, which would have blocked the transfer of goods to the Strip and vehicle traffic in the West Bank.

Sasson Peretz, the chairman of the Defense Ministry labor committee, says the sanctions began because the Finance Ministry intends to irreversibly diminish the employment terms of Israel's envoys, who perform a wide range of missions: military procurement, studying systems for the sake of national security, crucially strengthening ties during emergencies, and advancing defense industry deals with a great number of countries.