The Foreign Ministry's employees' union announced Monday that it is halting virtually all consular services given to Israelis and tourists abroad as part of its labor dispute, which was declared in late March. Exceptions will be made for cases involving medical emergencies, the transportation of bodies for burial and adoptions.
"Effective immediately, all consular services given by Israeli missions [worldwide] are suspended," read a memorandum sent to all Israeli diplomats on Sunday evening.
According to Army Radio, the ministry's workers' union said the decision followed yet another deadlock in its prolonged wage negotiations with the Finance Ministry.
As part of the service suspension, Foreign Ministry employees in Israel and overseas will no longer issue new or replacement passports, or visas of any kind. The ministry's Apostille notarization service, which provides international certification for legal documents such as birth and death certificates, has been suspended as well.
"We have no choice but to escalate our protest measures due to the stalemate with the Finance Ministry," a statement by the Foreign Ministry's workers' union said. "The Finance Ministry is dragging its feet and it is indifferent to the plight of the Foreign Ministry's employees. We urge every Israeli who has been affected by these measures to appeal to the director of wages at the Finance Ministry and ask that he end this dispute."
Israeli tourists who find themselves stranded abroad are advised to turn to a local Chabad house for assistance, Army Radio said.
"We would be happy to assist any Israeli or Jew in need. I don't expect we'll be bombarded by phone calls, but we will do everything we can to help," Rabbi Mordechai Levenhartz, who heads the Chabad house in Kiev, Ukraine, told Army Radio. "We are unable to issue visas, I'm afraid, but we can offer a comfortable place to stay and a hot meal."