Israel may wind-up its embassy in Ireland,Diplomats across globe on strike over pay dispute

wilayattimes (Ireland)

Dublin: Israel’s diplomatic missions around the world closed on Wednesday as Foreign Ministry workers went on strike over a dispute about paying taxes on overseas stipends.

Wilayat Times Desk Reports Says,No one was allowed into the closed missions, and services for Israelis abroad were unavailable. Signs bearing the word “Strike” were hung on railings and the outside walls of the Israeli embassy in Washington.

A tweet from Elad Strohmayer, spokesperson at the embassy, said: “We’re on strike! … No consular services will be provided, and no one will be allowed to enter the embassy. Israeli diplomats are committed at all times to enhancing Israel’s strength and resilience. Unfortunately, the decision of the Ministry of Finance does not leave us any choice but to take the above-mentioned action, since the vital interests of the State of Israel have been harmed.”

The dispute centers around stipends paid to overseas workers, which had been tax-exempt for decades, said Hanan Goder, Israel’s ambassador to South Sudan and a representative of the Foreign Ministry workers’ union. An agreement on compensation between the finance and foreign ministries was reached in July, but the Finance Ministry backtracked on the agreement, Goder said.

Meanwhile Israel is considering closing its embassy in Ireland as part of a cost-cutting plan, according to Israeli media reports.

The Dublin embassy is the only western European mission on a list of seven embassies and consulates listed for closure by the ministry of foreign affairs, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth reported.

The others are embassies in Belarus, Eritrea and the Dominican republic, the consulates in Atlanta and Bengaluru and the embassy in either Latvia or Lithuania.

Israel opened its embassy in Ireland in 1996, 21 years after diplomatic relations were established between the two countries. Its opening ended a long bilateral standoff that for a number of years meant Ireland was the only European Union state not to have an Israeli embassy.

Earlier this month, the Israeli foreign ministry announced that following budget negotiations with the finance ministry it planned to close seven diplomatic missions over the next three years.

The statement said it had not yet decided which missions to close, with a committee due to submit recommendations by the end of the month. A previous working document had proposed 22 mission closures and severe job cuts.

Israeli prime ministry Binyamin Netanyahu, who is also the country’s foreign minister, will have to sign off on any closures.

In July 2019, the Foreign Ministry Workers Union threatened sanctions on their own nation in order to hurt Israel’s economy. Financial woes were placed squarely at the feet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Netanyahu has systematically weakened the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” then-Finance Minister Yair Lapid said at the time. “He has taken away its budgets, undermined its staff and divided its responsibilities to keep his political partners quiet. Israel’s foreign relations and our national security are suffering as a result.”

Union representatives came to an agreement with the Finance Ministry in 2014 to increase Israeli diplomats’ pay, but reports indicate the plan was never completely implemented.

Currently, Israel has 69 embassies, 23 consulates and five special missions around the world, including a representative at the United Nations. But the Israeli government has cut the Foreign Ministry’s budget, leaving it at only approximately $367 million per year.