100 Israeli Embassies on strike
Staff of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) went on strike on Tuesday 3 March, potentially jeopardizing visits of foreign dignitaries and planned trips abroad by Israeli officials. The strike, which has also temporarily suspended all consular services to Israelis abroad, came after months-long talks with the Finance Ministry broke down earlier in the week.
The ministry’s Workers Union, which is fighting for higher salaries and better working conditions for diplomats serving abroad, published a list of more than two dozen measures that took effect as a result of the strike.
These included MFA official no longer cooperating in organising visits of foreign presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other officials. Likewise, the diplomats are refusing to assist Israeli officials currently abroad or planning overseas trips.
No diplomatic passports will be issued and “no assistance whatsoever” will be granted to Israeli officials abroad. In addition, all consular services to Israeli citizens are suspended; exceptions will only be made in cases where lives are in danger or bodies need to be returned to Israel for burials.
Fariebels with other depts.
Furthermore, the ministry has temporarily suspending any cooperation with government institutions, specifically the Finance Ministry but also the Shin Bet and Mossad intelligence services and the IDF. No diplomatic cables are being sent by diplomats and the cadet’s course and distribution of pro-Israel public diplomacy materials has been put on hold.
Diplomats have been instructed to cease any contact with the United Nations, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council, and other international organizations, including peacekeeping missions on Israel’s borders, such as UNIFIL and UNDOF.
An Embassy insider told SAJR Online this week that the strike may continue for a protracted period.
How it affects SA Jewry and Israelis in SA
The Pretoria embassy is providing no consular services to either Israelis in SA or SA Jewry at present. This means that if an Israeli citizen in SA has a passport that has expired, they cannot have it renewed – and, once they do re-open their doors, backlogs will be inevitable.
South Africans travelling to Israel on a normal SA passport do not require a visa. But those with temporary or emergency passports do. Or, in this case, don’t as they cannot get the visas.