Israeli diplomats strike over working conditions

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Israeli diplomats began an open-ended strike on Wednesday, closing more than 100 embassies and consulates around the world in a protest over working conditions.

The stoppage follows a long-running dispute between diplomatic staff and the finance ministry, which the envoys say has unilaterally changed its rules on reimbursing expenses for entertaining official guests.

“We are forced to close the Israeli representations in the world as of today (October 30),” the foreign ministry staff union said in a statement.

“No services will be provided to the public and admission to delegations will not be allowed.”

Israel’s ambassador to Belgium, Emmanuel Nachshon, said the row was over a treasury demand that receipts be provided with expense claims for home entertaining.

“Our embassy is closed like the rest of the Israeli embassies in the world,” he told Israeli public radio.

“When you host somebody in your home, when you hold a dinner or other activity, it’s not always possible to provide a receipt for everything,” he said.

“They need to trust us when we declare such an expense.”

Israeli financial daily Globes reported last month that the foreign ministry was in deep crisis after repeated cuts to its budget, and that its accountant general had ordered envoys to stop all business trips and entertaining and end overtime for local staff.

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