For the past four months, Foreign Ministry employees have been hoping that the Prime Minister's Office and the Finance Ministry would take notice of their ongoing workers' strike and, once and for all, comply with their demands to raise their embarrassingly low wages, provide financial assistance to spouses forced to put their careers on hold when they move abroad, and offer pensions and benefits of equal value to those enjoyed by Defense Ministry employees.
On Wednesday, Israel Hayom obtained a copy of a letter signed by Foreign Ministry ambassadors and consuls to government ministers and other senior officials, which was written prior to the Finance Ministry's "brutal decision," in the letter's words, to cut their salaries in Israel and around the world.
The letter was signed by 103 out of the 109 Israeli ambassadors and consuls abroad. It was addressed primarily to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid.
"We, the undersigned, ambassadors and the heads of Israeli missions worldwide, write to you with a great sense of concern over the lengthy and ongoing labor dispute at the Foreign Ministry, for which, in seems, there is no end in sight.
"Despite the labor dispute, Israeli missions worldwide continue with their efforts to bolster Israelis' sense of security. One example of many was evident just last week, as the European Union passed a resolution to include the "military wing" of Hezbollah in its terror watch list. The decision was the result of a lengthy diplomatic effort, which we tenaciously waged over the past few weeks despite the labor dispute," the letter said.
"The Foreign Ministry's contribution to Israel's national security does not begin and end with Hezbollah or with the efforts to further isolate Iran financially and diplomatically. Its efforts to thwart our enemies' attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel and to isolate it are ongoing. If our efforts fail, Israel's economy, research and development ventures and its international standing and resilience will suffer immense damage, as will its ability to defend itself.
"The dispute is way beyond being about the material conditions afforded to our envoys abroad. The dispute is about the status of the Foreign Ministry as one of the central planks of the State of Israel's national security and its ability to continue operating effectively across the entire spectrum of fields and authority, as is customary in functioning foreign ministries across the globe," the diplomats wrote.
The letter continued: "This year, we at the embassies have suffered a budget cut of over 50 percent of the operational budget, which was miniscule to begin with in comparison with the funds invested by rivals and competitors. This is a budget for activities such as promoting the Israeli economy, research and exports, public relations, branding, culture, work within the Jewish and Christian communities and more.
"It is important to also remind you of the personal and familial price that the foreign emissaries pay and which was one of the reasons why of many of the best among us resigned their positions at the Foreign Ministry and why it has been so difficult to fill these positions. We, the heads of embassies, almost completely without exception, are heavily guarded, and for good reason. After all, you know very well about the number of attempts to harm us and our people. Added to this we must mention the difficulties of day-to-day life, particularly in the tougher countries where many of us serve, especially for our partners and children. While we do everything out of love for the state and because of a sense of purpose, this is not a justification to take us for granted.
"The labor dispute is tearing us apart over our sense of mission and responsibility, and the sense of contempt by those who appointed us, who show apathy to our cause, inattentiveness to our needs, and a lack of appreciation for our work. We are calling on you to get involved in the labor dispute, so as to avoid causing further damage to us all, especially the State of Israel and its citizens," the ambassadors concluded.