The Israeli consulate in Miami last week announced that its passport stock has run out due to the sanctions implemented by the Foreign Ministry workers' union, and due to disruptions in the ministry's mail shipments. No new passports will be issued until the labor dispute at the Foreign Minister ends. 

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The union warned that the passport stock could end up in additional consulates in the United States and Europe ahead of the upcoming holidays when many Israelis abroad are required to renew their passports. 

The union announced that for the time being, activities in Ukraine will be excluded from the sanctions, in order to prevent danger to the lives of Israeli citizens. 

Staff at the Israeli Embassy in Kyiv. (Archive photo: Foreign Ministry)

The sanctions were implemented several weeks ago, when negotiations exploded between the Foreign Ministry workers’ union and the Finance Ministry. According to the union, the ministry officials have refused to present any response to their demands to cease negatively affecting their wages and terms of employment, and to return the salaries that were unilaterally taken from the workers.

“While Foreign Ministry employees are working tirelessly to rescue every Israeli in Ukraine, here in the Finance Ministry we are being treated with indifference and given the cold shoulder. They are fighting us and putting the heat on us. We will not be able to come to terms with it and will join in tightening the sanctions,” said the chairman of the union, Yossi Levy-Sfari.  

The union claimed that the Ministry of Finance violated terms and harmed the income of the ministry’s workers, and that the state does not allow overtime work from Friday-Saturday, although there are tasks they are forced to perform during these times, without compensation. 

A meeting took place following an intervention from Lapid after months of labor disputes between the two parties. According to the union, the representatives of the Finance Ministry claimed that they did not know at all the terms of employment of the workers and that the management of the Foreign Ministry did not discuss with them the problems related to the workers.

The aggravation of the organizational measures included: a complete cessation of electronic correspondence, including emails, telegrams and WhatsApp correspondence between the headquarters and the embassies, termination of working relations between Foreign Ministry employees and the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Security Council, termination of all management of outgoing visits by elected officials, extensive damage to the diplomatic postal system and stopping of all work on work visas, at all embassies in the world.

These measures are in addition to the sanctions that are already in place today at the Foreign Ministry, which have already led to widespread damage to public service. 

The chairman of the Histadrut in the Jerusalem district, Danny Bonfil said in a statement: “There is no choice but to increase the sanctions. It is very unfortunate that the State of Israel and its citizens will be harmed by this.”

The Finance Ministry published a statement in response to the sanctions: “The Foreign Ministry Workers’ Union and the Histadrut representatives met [two weeks ago] for the first time with representatives of the Finance Ministry. Most of the issues raised at the meeting need further clarification from the Foreign Ministry management side. At the meeting it was agreed that there are a number of issues to be discussed as part of the next wage agreement. The Finance Ministry intends to schedule another meeting in order to continue the discussions.”

“Foreign Ministry employees are abusing and harming us in every way possible, so we are sadly forced to announce that the Consulate in Miami can no longer issue passports,” the Israeli Consulate for Miami Consular Affairs Eli Gil said recently in a statement from the consulate. “We have no doubt that this is a serious blow to the great service we provide to hundreds of thousands of Israelis, but it is the result of an opaque finance policy that damage continues within the Foreign Ministry.”

Serbian parliamentary speaker Ivica Dacic has canceled his planned visit to Israel due to Foreign Ministry sanctions. These sanctions have led to a failure to secure diplomatic visits at all levels in Israel.

This article was translated from Hebrew by Matt Levy and Zak Newbart.