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Netanyahu cancels planned trip to Latin America due to Foreign Ministry workers dispute
By HERB KEINON
03/20/2014
The trip would have been the first ever by a sitting prime minister to South America, and is the biggest casualty so far due the workers' sanctions.
 
The Foreign Ministry labor sanctions have forced Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu to postpone a visit to Mexico, Panama and Colombia next month, a spokesman from the ministry’s workers committee said on Thursday.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the trip was postponed, but would not say why.

The trip, which would have been the first ever by a sitting prime minister to South America, is the biggest casualty in the labor sanctions that have crippled the ministry since early March. The sanctions were declared after mediation efforts failed to end a labor dispute stretching back to 2012.

The ministry workers demand better salary and work conditions, including compensation for spouses, who forfeit careers to join husbands and wives in the diplomatic corps abroad.

The sanctions led to the cancellation of diplomatic passports on Wednesday for three senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, including National Security Council head Yossi Cohen.

While Netanyahu has traveled abroad a number of times during ministry labor sanctions, this particular trip would be difficult because it covers three countries where he has not traveled before.

The delay of this trip raises questions about whether Pope Francis will be able to visit the country in May.
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