Treasury approves flow of funds to keep embassies abroad running

Former senior diplomats bewail 'shocking' situation in ministry

September 9, 2019 17:07
1 minute read.
Israel Katz (L) whispers to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during a cabinet meeting

Israel Katz (L) whispers to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during a cabinet meeting, December 9th, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 The Finance Ministry approved a flow of funds to the Foreign Ministry on Monday that will allow it to continue its overseas activities following an unprecedented order the night before to stop all activity in Foreign Ministry representations abroad requiring new funding because of a severe budget deficit.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz's office released a statement saying that the continued funding followed a conversation Katz had with Shaul Meridor, in charge of the Treasury's budget department.

In parallel, the statement said, talks between the Foreign Ministry and the Treasury will continue to come up with a reform package that will enable the ministry to continue to carry out its duties.

The Treasury's directive Sunday evening to halt diplomatic activities oversees came two months after Foreign Ministry workers reached an agreement with the Treasury that averted threats of a strike that would have close Israeli embassies and consulates abroad.

A group of former senior ambassadors and Foreign Ministry officials sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday expressing “deep concern and anxiety” over the ongoing deterioration in the status of the Foreign Ministry over the last few years.

The letter said that this process reached its peak on Sunday with the directive from the Finance Ministry to stop any new Foreign Ministry expenditures abroad.

“The damage to the Foreign Ministry, its authority and the resources at its disposal, cause severe harm to Israel's national resilience and interests, to its status around the world, to its fight against BDS, to Israel's economy, and to its ability to take care of Israel's citizens abroad,” the letter stated.

The letter characterized the deterioration in the Foreign Ministry as “shocking,” and said that responsibility for this “absurd situation” does not only rest with Finance Ministry officials, but also “first and foremost with the prime minister and ministers who are involved in the issue.”

Among those who signed the letter were former director-general Reuven Merhav; former deputy directors-general Pinhas Avivi, Artur Kol, Yigal Caspi, Gideon Meir; former spokesman Yigal Palmor; and former ambassadors Danny Carmon, Aryeh Mekel, Amir Gissin, Danny Shek, and Baruch Binah.

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