The ongoing labor dispute between Foreign Ministry employees and the Finance Ministry has ground the issuance of diplomatic passports to a halt. As a result, cabinet ministers have been denied the necessary documentation for official travel abroad.
For the past several months, Foreign Ministry union representatives have sought to improve employment benefits for the ministry's employees, including diplomats.
According to sources within the Foreign Ministry, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's planned trip to the Paris Air Show next month is currently in limbo because his diplomatic passport cannot be renewed. The Paris Air Show has become over the years a permanent fixture on the itinerary of Israeli defense ministers. Foreign Ministry officials say Ya'alon also wants his passport to indicate his new title, "Defense Minister," instead of "Strategic Affairs Minister," but that request has so far been denied as well.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, Education Minister Shay Piron, Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri, Health Minister Yael German, Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen, Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach and a few deputy ministers will also have to wait for the labor dispute to be resolved before they receive their diplomatic passports.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Transportation, National Infrastructure and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat and Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely cannot represent the government abroad either because their diplomatic passports have expired. In the case of Livni, this means she might not be able to attend upcoming peace talks with her Palestinian counterparts. Katz also has an overseas trip coming up.
A Foreign Ministry union representative told Israel Hayom Sunday that the employees are "currently in the midst of a labor dispute over employment benefits for those stationed abroad." The representative also cited alleged improprieties as one of the reasons for the job action. "As a result, a decision was made to stop the issuance and renewal of diplomatic passports; we may take additional measures if no progress is made in the talks," he said.