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Foreign Ministry Strike Heats Up

Finance Ministry, Foreign Ministry square off with sharp words and pointed picketing, as officials warn of harm to Israeli diplomacy.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 3/24/2014, 6:02 PM

Foreign Ministry employees strike in Jerusalem
Foreign Ministry employees strike in Jerusalem
Flash90

Foreign Ministry employees took to the streets outside the Jerusalem branch Monday to protest what they claim are unfair working conditions. 

The demonstration featured signs saying "Yair Lapid - is there a future ["yesh atid" in Hebrew, also the name of Lapid's party - ed.] a future for Foreign Ministry workers?" and "While Foreign Ministry workers are on the front lines of anti-Semitism, a couple who works there has no retirement fund." 

Yair Frommer, Chairman of the Foreign Ministry Employees' Union, told IDF Radio on Monday that he intends to wage a serious strike against the Finance Ministry over wage disputes. 

"Finance ministers are recklessly and irresponsibly working to do everything in their power to destroy the Foreign Ministry of the State of Israel," Frommer stated. "This irresponsibility has brought Israel to the brink of international isolation. It is time for that to come to an end." 

The strike, which was announced Sunday, has seen 103 branches of the Foreign Ministry closed worldwide, as a partial labor dispute snowballed into a full-fledged strike. 

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) opposes the drastic measure, deeming the move "irresponsible" and "liable to do more harm than good."  

The Finance Ministry also released a response to the strike on Monday, which sharply criticized the Union for staging the shutdown. 

"The Union of the Foreign Ministry has taken the citizens of Israel hostage and harms the vital interests of the State," the statement said. "The Ministry has proposed solutions to the problem, but the Union is demanding more payment for senior officials - and this after an additional 20% pay raise added two years ago. The employment committee has refused the proposals and abandoned the mediation process unilaterally." 

Concerns over cancellations due to the strikes may have been justified, meanwhile, as several important visits from officials to Israel have been cancelled in the strike's wake. 

Ma'ariv reports Monday that, so far, the Austrian and Norwegian Foreign Ministers and the King of Swaziland have cancelled their visits. Future visits are now in jeopardy of being postponed as well, according to the daily, including a planned visit by the President of Micronesia and Pope Francis

Protesting in Jerusalem Flash90