Netanyahu Turkel panel 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu travels to Washington to relaunch direct
talks with the Palestinians next week, he will have to deal not only with a long
list of Palestinian demands, but with demands from Foreign Ministry workers who,
because of work sanctions, will not be providing services for his
The Foreign Ministry’s workers committee announced Tuesday that as
part of sanctions to upgrade employment conditions to those of the Defense
Ministry and the Mossad, the “upcoming visit of the prime minister to Washington
will not be served by Foreign Ministry workers.”
This work dispute has
been going on since February, with the workers periodically ratcheting up their
sanctions – ranging from wearing jeans and sneakers to work, to not providing
drivers for foreign dignitaries.
The decision not to service Netanyahu’s
trip means that embassy workers in Washington will not be involved in the
logistics of the visit, and this will all have to be handled by the Prime
Minister’s Office and other governmental bodies. A similar step was taken last
week when Netanyahu visited Greece, and it created a degree of confusion because
of problems with drivers who were not from the ministry.
A source in the
Prime Minister’s Office said that while this step was definitely inconvenient,
it was an inconvenience that could be dealt with.
In July, during
Netanyahu’s last visit to Washington, Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini stepped in to
ask that the sanctions be suspended to ensure that the visit would be
A similar appeal by Eini has not yet been
In addition to announcing that Foreign Ministry workers will
not be providing support for the Netanyahu visit, the workers committee also
announced the following additional sanctions:
• Starting Monday, no visitors
will be received in the Foreign Ministry, with the exception of those going to
meetings in the offices of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman or Deputy Foreign
Minister Danny Ayalon.
• As of Monday, Israel’s representatives abroad
will not receive outside visitors, either locals or delegations from
• The ministry will immediately stop providing services – such as
documentation or authorizations – for foreign diplomats, either newly
already serving here.
• The ministry will stop providing assistance to
exporters of Israeli goods.
• The ministry will cut off all its
connections with the Treasury.
• Consular services abroad will, in a
number of key consulates such as New York, Los Angeles, Brussels and
done from now on by telephone appointment only.