Daily Israel Report

Foreign Ministry Strike Close to an End

Agreement between employees' union, Finance Ministry very close after intense negotiations in Tel Aviv.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 4/2/2014, 5:32 PM

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

The Knesset held an emergency hearing on Wednesday over the ongoing Foreign Ministry Employees' Union strike, which is inching toward coming to a close.

The meeting, which was headed by MKs Yuli Edelstein, Reuven Rivlin, and Haim Katz (Likud), discussed the possibility of forging an agreement between the Ministry's employees and the staff over working conditions.

At the end of the meeting, the head of the Employees' Union and a Finance Ministry representative submitted a draft for an agreement, according to reports.

As drama over the peace talks unfolded over the past several days, another set of intense negotiations were being conducted in Tel Aviv between Union and Finance Ministry representatives over the Ministry strike. Both sides acknowledge that they are shifting toward a consensus.

This is the latest development in the Foreign Ministry strike, which was announced last Sunday. The strike saw 103 branches of Israel's Foreign Ministry across the globe shutter as employees protested what they claim are low salaries and a lack of benefits.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) has said multiple times that he does not support the strike in his office, and has deemed the fully-fledged protest "irresponsible." He also claimed that tension over the issue had turned into violence.

"[They] are allowed to strike, but not to show verbal and physical violence," Liberman fired last week. "I saw a senior employee in our legal office in tears, after protesters cursed and threatened her."

"I am the foreign minister, and I have made more achievements in this office than previous ministers," he added. "I was with the workers as long as they were not breaking the law, but now I turned to the judge for mediation."

The strike has been the source of some controversy, after the Finance Ministry claimed that the Foreign Ministry workers actually make very high salaries for Israeli employees. The Foreign Minister's union has fired back, calling the data "illusory." 

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.