Israeli consulate in Atlanta, 5 embassies to close next year

Israel closes foreign embassies, consulate, in order to allow salary hikes.

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Israeli embassy in the US (illustrative)
Israeli embassy in the US (illustrative)
Reuters

The Israeli consulate in Atlanta is among seven foreign ministry offices facing closure as of next year following the allocation of $11 million toward salaries.

In addition to the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeastern United States in Atlanta, also facing closure are the Israeli embassies in Ireland, Belarus, Eritrea, the Dominican Republic, the consulate in the Indian city of Bengaluru and an embassy in either Latvia or Lithuania, Yediot Aharonot reported last week.

The reason for the cutbacks are a series of agreements that give envoys and local embassy employees raises in pay to the tune of $11.75 million. Staff staged protests and even strikes in recent years to protest their wages and demand raises, arguing the meager salaries – some as low as $1,200 for career diplomats – were ultimately compromising Israeli diplomacy’s efforts.

The cutbacks following the new employment terms were meant to lead to the closure of 22 offices abroad out of Israel’s total of 103. But in negotiations between the foreign and finance ministries, the number was lowered to seven, which would be closed down by 2022.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will further make redundant 50 employees by 2022, many of them through early retirement.

The treasury will allocate another $51 million to the foreign ministry to help its staff compensate for the loss of seven offices abroad. This sum will come on top of $24 million currently allocated toward special projects and activities worldwide.

The bulk of the foreign ministry annual budget of $470 million is spent on overhead, leaving meager funding for projects and special activities.

Hanan Godar, the head of the Foreign Ministry workers union, called the decision to close embassies to fund it “an unfortunate decision that will reduce the ministry’s ability to face international challenges.” He accused the Ministry of Finance of “ignoring the urgent need” for more funding for the foreign ministry. Godar was a leader in the fight to obtain raises in salaries for foreign ministry employees.








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