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Israeli Foreign Ministry strike complicates Netanyahu's travels

By Janine Zacharia

Will the Mossad end up arranging Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington next week for a peace summit with the Palestinians?

With the Israeli Foreign Ministry on strike, the possibility that the intelligence agency could end up booking hotel rooms is real. Netanyahu ordered the Mossad to arrange the rooms, cars, and other logistics traditionally handled by the embassy when he visited Greece earlier this month after diplomats in Athens refused to help because of the strike.

The Israeli embassy in Washington - save Ambassador Michael Oren, who officials in Jerusalem say will accompany Netanyahu to his meetings - is abiding by the strike too.

``The prime minister will not have any support from us,'' said Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry (who took a reporter's call despite being on strike.) ``If he wants to send a cable to Jerusalem, he will not be able. If he needs some background material, he will not get it from the embassy.'' 

An official in the prime minister's office acknowledged the strike ``complicates the visit and creates logistical difficulties as well.'' Asked if the Mossad will make the necessary arrangements as it did in Greece, the official said: ``I don't want to go into it.''

U.S. officials also will likely have to scramble to fill in some of the gaps, Israeli officials said.

Diplomats, on strike for several weeks, are demanding better pay and work conditions on par with Defense Ministry employees who often receive better wages. While embassies remain open worldwide and are conducting business with their host countries, in Israel, the Foreign Ministry is not providing any travel documents or other assistance to the prime minister's office or other government agencies.

Hopefully, Netanyahu's passport hasn't expired.

By Janine Zacharia  | August 25, 2010; 9:26 AM ET
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Jeez, that is some dumb stuff. Your diplomats can strike? That is crazy.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 25, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Any movement towards peace will have to face strikes from the expected and unexpected. After all, quarters feeding on conflicts, wars, etc., have to fight for their own interests and survival.

Posted by: HIMALAYAN | August 28, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

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