Israel suspends issuing visas in PH

Paterno R. Esmaquel II
It's part of a strike by Israeli diplomats worldwide

NO VISAS FOR NOW. An aerial view of a giant Israel (right) and Philippine (left) flags after they were unrolled on a airport runway in the desert near the Dead Sea on Nov 25, 2007. While the two countries enjoy more than 50 years of friendship, Israel has suspended consular services in the Philippines because of a worldwide strike. File photo by Jim Hollander/EPA

MANILA, Philippines – Israel’s embassy in Manila announced on Friday, March 14, that it will temporarily stop issuing visas to Filipinos because of a strike by Israeli diplomats worldwide.

“As part of the suspension, the Israel Mission in Manila will not be able to deal with matters pertaining to official visits to Israel and to the Philippines. No visas to Israel will be issued, since all consular services are suspended,” the Israeli embassy said in a letter sent to reporters on Friday.

The embassy said this is “part of a legally recognized labor dispute initiated by the Workers’ Association of Israel’s Foreign Ministry employees.”

Because of this, it added, “all contacts with the government and official institutions of the state are hereby suspended until further notice.”

The strike, which began last March 4, affects Israeli embassies around the world.

Israel’s embassy in the Philippines said it is a “result of a full year of fruitless negotiations between the Israel Foreign Ministry’s Workers’ Union and the Israel Ministry of Finance.”

“This is a last resort according to the recognized rights of workers under Israeli law,” the embassy said.

Diplomats: Raise our salaries

The union’s demands include “a long-overdue adjustment of the salary to the rise in the cost of living, an end to a discriminatory tax policy, consideration of the dear price paid by ‘trailing’ spouses and children in terms of loss of income, career and pension, and a decent compensation for extra hours,” the Israeli embassy in the United States said.

On March 7, an Israeli diplomat said the strike could even make Pope Francis’ first trip to the Holy Land, set for May, “impossible.”

“The leaders could come as tourists, but diplomats will not take care of logistics, protocol, or the political dimension of these visits,” said Yigal Palmor, who spoke as an employee and not in his capacity as ministry spokesman.

The Vatican said there were no plans to cancel the trip but confirmed the strike could result in “complications.”

Israel’s embassy in the United States said, “The bold measures mentioned above will hopefully raise awareness, both domestically and internationally, of the dire situation of Israel’s hard working diplomats.” – with reports from Agence France-Presse/

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email