Israel embassy in PH closes, stops aid
MANILA, Philippines – In an unprecedented move, Israel's embassy in the Philippines on Tuesday, March 25, announced it is temporarily closing shop because of a global strike among Israeli diplomats.
Other Israeli embassies around the world will also remain closed “until further notice.”
This means the Manila embassy will stop all its aid and development programs in the Philippines, as well as its visa services. It will also “stop the preparation of important agreements” between the Philippines and Israel, suspend official visits, and prohibit cultural activities.
“This is 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 Foreign Ministry's employees' labor union,” the Israeli embassy in Manila said in a statement.
This move came after Israel's Finance Ministry “has not seen fit to reach a compromise with the workers' legitimate demands for a fair wage and reasonable labor conditions.”
'We have no choice'
The diplomats' strike began on March 4.
The Philippines already felt the effects of the strike earlier in March, when Israel's embassy in Manila said it will temporarily stop issuing visas to Filipinos.
“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 needed at our ministry,” the Israeli embassy in the Philippines said.
It added, “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.”
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. – Rappler.com