By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency
Ministry of Finance violates agreements causing suspension of all services to the public. Entrance to the missions will not be permitted.
Jerusalem — October 30, 2019 … Statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
“Due to the Ministry of Finance decision to violate agreements that were endorsed by the Ministry of Finance Director General and signed on 21 July 2019 and to enforce unilateral procedures on representatives abroad that change practices that have been in effect for decades, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is compelled to close all Israeli diplomatic missions abroad. No services will be provided to the public and entrance to the missions will not be permitted.
Israel’s representatives abroad strive to promote the country’s international standing and strength daily. The Ministry of Finance is impairing essential tools of the State of Israel and has unfortunately left us with no option other than the closing of all diplomatic missions. We hope that the matter will be resolved soon.”
The move, coordinated by the Israel Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the Histadrut Labor Federation, came after the Treasury reportedly backtracked on previous understandings and said it would force the envoys to pay back thousands of dollars that they had been reimbursed for expenses.
The closure came into effect at 1 a.m on Wednesday morning Israel time.
The closures will harm Israelis traveling abroad and in need of consular assistance for issues like lost passports or medical emergencies.
Beyond salaries and expenses, the ministry itself has struggled with massive budget cuts. Employees have complained that they don’t have enough money to buy ink cartridges and other basic equipment to function.
In September the Foreign Ministry announced that it was being forced to freeze most of its diplomatic activities worldwide due to a lack of funds.
Israel currently maintains 69 embassies, 23 consulates and five special missions, including its representative at the United Nations.