A Vatican advance team planning Pope Francis’ scheduled visit to Israel in May is expected to arrive this week, despite Foreign Ministry work sanctions that are casting a cloud over the planned trip.
The advance team, which is also to travel to Jordan and the Palestinian Authority where the Pope is scheduled to visit, is expected to meet with officials in the Prime Minister’s Office, though not with Foreign Ministry employees.
The Foreign Ministry declared crippling work sanctions last week in its prolonged labor dispute for better wages and conditions after mediation efforts fell apart. Among the sanctions is a refusal by Foreign Ministry workers to provide logistical support for foreign leaders coming to Israel or Israeli officials traveling abroad.
Despite speculation that British Prime Minister David Cameron might be forced to cancel his planned visit this week because of the sanctions, the Knesset announced Sunday that a special Knesset session will be held Wednesday where he will speak.
The Prime Minister’s Office, meanwhile, issued a statement saying that the office will continue to work on behalf of the prime minister, including preparing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to the Naval base in Eilat on Monday – to attract media attention to the Klos C arms smuggling ship – and make preparations for Cameron’s visit.