Staff strike forces Israeli embassies to shut worldwide

Jerusalem, March 24: Israeli foreign ministry workers began a general strike Sunday, effectively shutting down all diplomatic services in Israel and around 103 foreign missions abroad.

An internal e-mail sent from the the foreign ministry’s workers union to its employees and published by the Ha’aretz daily said the strike would begin 3 p.m. Sunday, and in the missions abroad the strike will commence Monday, Xinhua reported.

“The Foreign Ministry headquarters will be closed to all activities,” it said. “All workers in all positions are ordered to stay away from the office. Israeli missions abroad will be closed as of Monday March 24.”

The strike will go on indefinitely, the workers said, until the treasury improves their employment conditions and withdraws its plan to cut workers’ salaries.

This is the first time since the establishment of the state in 1948 that its embassies throughout the world will shut down at once.

The strike will include a complete halt in all diplomatic activities, including organising official visits abroad and transferring diplomatic cables among missions. There would be no issuing of passports or visas into Israel.