Striking Israeli diplomats complain to Matthew Gould over David Cameron visit

By Marcus Dysch, March 11, 2014
Britain's ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould (Photo: Mati Milstein)

Britain's ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould (Photo: Mati Milstein)

Israel's foreign diplomats have complained to Britain's ambassador in the country over David Cameron's plans to travel to Israel despite ongoing strike action.

Israel’s Foreign Service Workers’ Association has repeatedly stated that staff would not co-operate or assist with preparations for Mr Cameron's visit on Wednesday.

In a letter to ambassador Matthew Gould, the union representing Foreign Ministry staff said it was "disappointed" the British embassy had "been actively contributing to the on-going efforts to break our struggle for better and fairer conditions.

"As a civil servant yourself, surely you will sympathise with our never-ending endeavour to try and make the most with so very little.

"Surely you have experienced the personal cost to one's family and dependents from embarking on a career that requires you to uproot your loved ones every few years.

"Surely you have tried to grapple with the enormous gap between the unjust and inaccurate public image of the diplomatic career, and the harsh and often lonely nature of the job."

The letter, sent on Tuesday, points out that Mr Cameron will be made welcome in Israel, but says the "current circumstances" mean diplomats cannot contribute to the visit.

The striking workers accuse Mr Gould and the embassy of co-operating with the Israeli government to "circumvent" the strike - "knowingly contributing to denigrating our status, undercutting our traditional responsibilities and disrupting a just and legitimate labour dispute".

In a statement, the British embassy in Tel Aviv said: “We have an enormous respect for the work of our colleagues at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and we are grateful to them for their close collaboration with us.

"The visit of Prime Minister Cameron will be a proud moment for both countries, and we regret the MFA were unable to participate in its organisation on this occasion.

"We look forward to working closely with the MFA on future visits.”

Mr Cameron will arrive in Jerusalem on Wednesday and will address the Knesset.

Last updated: 5:50pm, March 11 2014