The labor dispute in the Foreign Ministry has intensified in recent days as a result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts to have his upcoming visit to Poland managed by the local Israel Defense Forces attaché rather than the ministry's diplomats.
The Foreign Ministry union has demanded that Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and Israel Security Agency chief Yoram Cohen refuse to cooperate with the Prime Minister's Office on the matter. They have further threatened to suspend cooperation between the ministry and the defense establishment on other issues if their request is not met.
The Foreign Ministry's employees announced their job action several months ago. According to the union, Israeli diplomats are underpaid and struggle to get by because of the prohibitive costs of relocating abroad, usually with their entire families. The government hoped Cohen and Gantz's organizations would allow the Poland trip, scheduled for next week, to go forward.
"We have recently learnt that the IDF and the ISA have been given jurisdiction over matters that are under the exclusive domain of the Foreign Ministry; these matters are currently not being handled by the Foreign Ministry because of the ongoing dispute inside the ministry," the union representatives wrote in a letter that was addressed to Gantz and Cohen. A copy of the letter was sent to Histadrut leader Ofer Eini.
"This job dispute has been officially declared by the Histadrut as is required by law, and therefore the government must hold talks with the Foreign Ministry's employees to iron out disagreements," the letter continues.
Two Knesset committees will discuss the effect of the ongoing dispute on Tuesday in an effort to diffuse the crisis.