Work sanctions could hinder Netanyahu on Washington trip

Employment disputes mean Foreign Ministry workers will not help with logistics.

Netanyahu Turkel panel 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
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 trip.
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 glitchfree.
A similar appeal by Eini has not yet been forthcoming.
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 Israel.
• The ministry will immediately stop providing services – such as documentation or authorizations – for foreign diplomats, either newly arrived or 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 Paris, be done from now on by telephone appointment only.