Diplomatic Row

Israeli Embassy in Nepal was closed due to the strike by Israel’s diplomatic corps world wide

April 6, 2014, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -19 Apr. 04- 2014 (Chaitra 21, 2070)

It may be strange for people in other countries to see diplomats taking part in a general strike. However, it seems to be normal in Israel. The present global closure of Israel’s foreign ministry and diplomatic corps indicate that a matured democracy with strong institution can handle even such sensitive strikes.

Dissatisfied with the prevailing wages, Israel’s diplomats around the world have been on strike for more than two weeks, and the ramifications of the labor sanctions are also being felt in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu.

“At this time, we are sorry to inform the general public that the Embassy of Israel in Kathmandu, along with all Israeli Embassies worldwide, have remained closed from 24 March 2014 until further notice,” said Hanan Goder, ambassador of Israel to Nepal.

This is for the first time in the history of the State of Israel that such a situation has occurred. The decision to close all embassies was made with a heavy heart by the Israeli Foreign Ministry's Employee's Labor Union.

This drastic step comes as the Israeli Ministry of Finance has not seen it fit to reach a compromise with the workers’ demands for a fair wage and reasonable work conditions.

The Embassy's doors will remain closed until further notice. The embassy staff will stop the preparation of important agreements between the nations. No official visits will take place, no cultural activities will be allowed. Aid and development programs will stop and no consular activities will be performed.

“We, as Israeli diplomats, feel a great responsibility to our country and to our profession, and because of this we feel that we have no choice but to take this drastic step in order to facilitate the changes that are so much needful at our Ministry,” said ambassador Goder.

While demonstrating in front of the Israeli Embassy in Kathmandu Ambassador Hanan Goder said, “I regret that we had to take this action. Unfortunately, these officials at the Israeli Ministry of Finance understand only the language of damage! I apologize to the public and whoever needs the services of the Israeli Embassy.”

We hope that by this course of action we can influence others in ensuring that we and our families and our Ministry have a more prosperous future.

 “We are protesting against the Ministry of Finance decision not to increase our salary. Not only in Nepal, hundreds of embassies around the world are closed because of policies of Israeli Ministry of Finance. They are cutting our salary,” said Israeli ambassador to Nepal Hanan Goder.

“We love our country but we deserve better salary. As the salary in foreign service is too low, over thirty percent of new comers have already left foreign service.  I am protesting against the decision to cut our salary. The salary has eroded in the last 15 years, the salary has not increased despite the high inflation,” said ambassador Hanan Goder. “We’re doing most of our work internally right now. We can’t provide services to the community, unless it’s life-or-death matter.”

The strike, which has pitted Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs against the country’s Ministry of Finance, began on March 4.  It follows a proposal made by the Israeli treasury department, which handles the country’s budget, that was considered unsatisfactory to Israel’s foreign ministry, which includes the country’s diplomats working inside the country and abroad.

Ambassador Hanan Goder said that while there are several issues that the diplomatic corps would like to see addressed in any labor deal that is reached, their primary concern is with compensation, specifically pay adjustments for people serving overseas.

Israeli embassy staff said that people serving in the corps do not earn enough to support themselves.  “This dispute started because we’re not a priority of the state,” Hanan Goder said in an interview at his office.

“It is not a personal issue only but it’s basically about the future of the foreign service. If we need most qualified and competent foreign service, they need to pay more. We’ve seen that less and less people want to serve in foreign mission because salaries have not been adjusted to the cost of living for over last fifteen years,” said Hanan Goder.

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