Ministry Workers to Stop Handling Netanyahu's Overseas Trips Over Wage Spat

Talks with the Finance Ministry over tax on the payments envoys abroad receive for hosting meetings - had reached a dead end, a source said ■ Dispute comes ahead of Netanyahu's trip to India in September

Noa Landau
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his wife Sarah leaving Tel Aviv on their way to Washington DC., March 2015.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his wife Sarah leaving Tel Aviv on their way to Washington DC., March 2015.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO
Noa Landau

 The worker committees of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Defense Ministry announced they will cease handling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trips abroad until further notice because of a wage dispute with the Finance Ministry. 

Netanyahu's next scheduled trip is in September, to India, just before the next election.

The committees said they had reached the decision in collaboration with the Histadrut Labor Federation, months after declaring a labor dispute.

President Rivlin hosts Israeli ambassadors to Europe, North America, the Middle East and international organizations, on Monday, December 10, 2018. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom (GPO)

The dispute was caused when talks with the Finance Ministry over taxes its representatives abroad will be forced to pay for hosting meetings had reached a dead end.

In parallel with declaring the labor dispute, the heads of Israeli delegations abroad recently complained, in internal correspondence, about the 350-million-shekel cut ($98 million) in the Foreign Ministry's budget, an austerity measure that is stressing its routine operations

Israeli embassies and consulates abroad don’t even have money for train tickets or to serve coffee at work meetings, much less paying dues to international organizations, Israeli diplomats complained recently in cables to the Foreign Ministry.

Due to the financial strain, Israeli dues have been suspended to around 20 international organizations, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the World Food Program, the UN Development Program, UNICEF, UN Women, the Council of Europe, the Union for the Mediterranean and the Anna Lindh Foundation. As a result, Israel is racking up debts to these organizations.

For the same reason, the heads of Foreign Ministry desks have canceled work trips to areas under their responsibility, as have roving ambassadors, who are responsible for more than one country. Diplomats are even limiting travel within the countries to which they are assigned and consular services to Israelis.