Striking Israeli Diplomats Refuse to Provide Assistance to Citizens Abroad

As part of its sanctions against the foreign ministry, employees announce that they will not help citizens who lose their passport, need medical attention or face legal troubles around the world.

The Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday that it would not be able to provide assistance to Israelis traveling abroad for the time being, an unprecedented move sparked by the growing sanctions imposed by the ministry's union of employees.

The ministry has absolved itself of all responsibility for the safety of Israelis abroad, and recommends that nationals living outside the country carefully consider their continued residency in foreign lands or think about putting off travel plans until the situation changes.

tourists - AP - January 6 2011

The statement emphasized that despite these recommendations, nothing in Israeli law could legally prevent citizens from traveling to any other country in the world.

As part of the increased sanctions, ministry employees will not deal with Israelis who lose their passports, require medical attention, fall prey to fraud or crime, or become incarcerated or embroiled in legal problems while abroad.

The ministry workers will also refuse to provide aid to Israelis in other parts of the world who are lost or require evacuation by helicopter in the event of an accident, according to the workers' union statement.

Israelis who require any aid of these sorts to contact the offices of the Finance Minister, the union said in its statement.

The striking Israeli diplomats have in recent weeks intensified their dispute with the foreign ministry by making diplomatic arrangements difficult for the government in various sectors, but have still been providing emergency aid to Israeli citizens abroad.

The Foreign Ministry workers are hoping that these severe steps will lead Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene and a solution to satisfy their demands.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called on the foreign ministry staff to accept the Ministry of Finance offer which he says included a 22.5 percent raise in the wages of diplomats.

"When I was a diplomat the salary was almost insulting, but we worked for the privilege. Honestly, I call on the workers to accept the offer," Ayalon said.

He said that in the past two years the ministry's budget increased by NIS 384 million, with 45 positions for diplomats, 42 for trainees, and NIS 30 million more for building nine new missions.

Ayalon said that each employee would receive an 8.75 percent increase to his base salary and another NIS 5,000 one time payment. On average, an employee who served abroad twice will receive a total increase of 14.74 percent to the wages and in a future deployment the raise may reach 22.75 percent.