Top diplomats to PM: ‘Save the foreign service’

Foreign Ministry workers continue their year-long dispute with the Treasury, leading to the cancellation of world leaders' visits.

By
January 16, 2011 01:17
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu Evil Genius 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Some 20 of Israel’s senior ambassadors sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday calling on him to urgently step in and “save Israel’s foreign service.”

The ambassadors serving in some of Israel’s key posts abroad – including Ron Prosor in London, Ran Kuriel in Brussels, Mark Sofer in New Delhi and Meron Reuben at the UN – wrote that as a former diplomat, Netanyahu could appreciate the challenges they and their families face on a daily basis, as well as their contributions to the state.

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The Foreign Ministry’s workers committee has been engaged in a work dispute for nearly a year with the Treasury, trying to get their salaries equal to those of Defense Ministry and Mossad employees.

To this end they have over the last few weeks ratcheted up sanctions, causing the cancellation of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit here – originally scheduled to have taken place this week – as well as cancelling all consular services abroad and leaving Israelis in need of their services in foreign lands without anywhere to turn.

The Foreign Ministry workers, the ambassadors wrote, were part of Israel’s “national security envelope.”

“Just as the state needs its best at the center of the security establishment, it also needs them at the diplomatic front,” the letter read.

“As opposed to the different security branches and frameworks in which thousands of people are active, the diplomatic struggle is done by a few hundred professional diplomats splitting their talents between the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and a hundred delegations around the world. Unfortunately, the state – which knows how to properly compensate thousands of people – is not acting reasonably towards us, soldiers in suits and ties in Israel and around the world, and continuously has eroded our salaries and status into the ground.”

During a discussion on the matter in the Knesset earlier this month, the Finance Ministry said that the ministry workers were making 20-30 percent more than government employees elsewhere with similar training. The workers, however, said they were making 49% less than Defense Ministry workers, and some 80% less than the salaries paid in the Mossad.


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