Israel will close at least seven diplomatic missions abroad, the government approved on Friday morning as part of the passing of the 2019 budget. The approved budget includes a cut to the Foreign Ministry. An earlier plan called for the closing of 22 missions worldwide.
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A planned cut of 140 employees at the Foreign Ministry in Israel was replaced in the 2019 budget by encouraging employees to retire.
Among the missions that will be reviewed, as published this week in Haaretz, are those in the United States. The country currently has nine Israeli missions in Washington, Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago and New York, which includes the UN delegation. The estimated operating cost of each location is between 8 and 15 million shekels per year ($3.4 and $4.4 million, respectively). The Finance Ministry proposes to consolidate several of them.
Other missions under threat are located in Canada, in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. The three have similar operating costs to U.S. missions. Other diplomatic missions under review include Brazil (Brasilia and San Paolo), Turkey (Ankara and Istanbul) and Germany (Berlin and Munich). There may also be a consolidation of the representatives in Latvia and Lithuania as well as in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The Foreign Ministry says the closures will take place over three years, and the saved money will be returned to the Finance Ministry's operations.
According to sources in the Finance Ministry, most of the savings will be in defense and real estate expenses.