Israeli diplomats declare historic general strike

Israeli diplomats declare historic general strike

Israeli diplomats declare historic general strike

Israeli Minister of Finance Yair Lapid and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Israeli Foreign Ministry employees have declared a general strike which is expected to close down the country’s foreign missions and totally paralyze the diplomatic system for the first time in the country's history, according to a statement sent to daily Hürriyet by the Consulate General of Israel in Istanbul on March 23.

"The employees of the MFA declare a total strike- the State of Israel loses its diplomatic frontline and leaves itself vulnerable to the danger of international isolation," it is said in the statement, titled "Israel’s first line of defence collapses."

103 Israeli missions abroad will be completely closed for an indefinite period of time, as will the Foreign Ministry's headquarters in Jerusalem, to protest the employment conditions of Israeli diplomats and the Finance Ministry's decision to cut their salaries over the renewed sanctions.

“The Finance Ministry has declared total war on Israel’s Foreign Service, and on its dedicated diplomats who work tirelessly day in day out to ensure the future of all Israeli citizens. We will not accept the utter recklessness of the Finance Ministry's representatives who undermine the vital interests of the State of Israel," Yair Frommer, the head of the workers’ union at the ministry said.

Ministry staff had started a partial strike on March 4, refusing to conduct any diplomatic activity except those in "sensitive and crucial areas." A full strike means that diplomats will work "only for cases in which lives are in danger."

According to the statement, even Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will be denied to enter the ministry.

"There is no benefit to this at all. It will only cause the Foreign Ministry employees more harm," Lieberman said, describing the strike as "a miserable decision that shows a lack of sense." 

The Finance Ministry, on the other hand, said in a statement that "the Foreign Ministry's workers' union has taken the citizens of Israel hostage and is damaging the vital interests of the state." The workers had received a 20 percent pay raise two years ago and now the union is demanding extra pay for high-ranking officials, the treasury argued.