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How Much Does a Foreign Ministry Worker Really Make?

Foreign Ministry strike called into question after data shows employees make between 20,000-60,000 NIS per month. But is it true?
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 3/24/2014, 8:07 PM

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

As the Foreign Ministry strike made headlines on Monday for shutting down 103 Israeli diplomatic installations in dozens of countries,nat least one report suggests that the wage disputes may be unfounded.

Financial magazine Globes revealed on Monday night that 42% of Foreign Ministry employees are paid more than 20,000 shekel (more than $5,000) per month when working in Israel. That sum that can reach as high as 65,000 shekel ($18,608) per month while working abroad.

The daily cites figures from the Ministry of Finance's Department of Wages, which indicate that employees receive other benefits as well. Israel's Foreign Ministry head in Berlin, for example, enjoys a 65,828 shekel monthly salary each month, along with an official residence, and an Audi A6. So does the Israeli ambassador in Brussels. 

The Foreign Ministry workers' union, in response, claims that the Ministry of Finance figures are “unfounded and untrue.” According to the workers’ committee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) salaries are significantly lower than implied by the figures released by the Ministry of Finance.

“A Foreign Ministry diplomat’s starting monthly salary is NIS 5,700 gross for the first five years, and after ten years, during which, due the nature of the position, the diplomat is usually his or her family’s sole provider, salaries reach NIS 9,000 gross," the workers' committee stated. "Salaries for Israeli diplomats have not changed in more than a decade, and do not allow for a dignified existence." 

The dispute is the latest spat surrounding the strike, which was announced on Sunday. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) does not support the strike in his office, and has deemed the fully-fledged protest "irresponsible."

Meanwhile, concerns have been raised over the effects the strike could have on Israeli diplomacy, as several important diplomatic visits have already been cancelled or postponed.