Israeli diplomats end strike


JERUSALEM – Israeli diplomats on Monday ended a month-long strike that had severely impeded the Jewish state’s foreign relations, an official said. The end of the work sanctions means that an upcoming visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, scheduled for the end of January, will likely go ahead, Hanan Goder, head of the workers’ union at the foreign ministry told AFP.
“I hope she will come, we are going back to work and we have a lot of work to do,” he said. Doubts over Merkel’s visit arose after the strike forced Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to cancel the Israel leg of his trip to the region last week. The diplomats have been implementing work sanctions over the
past year but stepped up the strike on December 27 to protest the lack of progress in talks with the treasury.
During the strike the diplomats had refused to issue visas to visitors, replace lost passports or assist Israelis who got into trouble overseas if their difficulties were not life threatening. They had also refused to assist Israeli government officials travelling overseas, including PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
Union officials say that of the 830 people working for the ministry – 280 of whom are located overseas – 12 percent are living below the poverty line of 5,800 shekels per month (1,600 dollars, 1,200 euros) for a family of four.