Cameron curse as Israel visit fades - again

By Marcus Dysch, March 6, 2014

David Cameron’s planned visit to Israel appears to be doomed for a second time due to an Israeli Foreign Ministry strike.

Mr Cameron cancelled his first official trip to Israel as Prime Minister last month to remain in Britain to monitor the effects of the severe flooding.

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein suggested earlier this week that the trip had been rearranged, with Mr Cameron expected to address Israel’s parliament on Wednesday.

But that now seems unlikely, after a year-long dispute between the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Finance escalated.

It threatens to scupper Mr Cameron’s travel plans, and allow Labour leader Ed Miliband partially to steal the limelight when he visits the country next month.

The Israeli embassy in London said ambassador Daniel Taub had informed Downing Street of the labour dispute.

It said the embassy “would not be able to co-ordinate Mr Cameron’s visit as long as the strike action was in force”.

Downing Street does not comment on the Prime Minister’s travel plans.

Israel’s Foreign Service Workers’ Association said on Tuesday that diplomats would no longer engage with foreign representatives, work on official visits, or issue visas.

“These bold measures will hopefully raise awareness, both domestically and internationally, of the dire situation of Israel’s hard-working diplomats,” the FSWA said in a statement.

The failure of seven months of mediation talks between the sides was blamed on what the Foreign Ministry said were “finance bureaucrats” who “lacked sincerity”.

One Israeli Foreign Ministry source told the JC: “Now the s*** has hit the fan. People want to shut down the embassies. It might not be a long strike but it will be very severe.

“There are no meetings, no consular activities, no taking care of foreign visitors.

“We will go to a full shut down and just close down the embassies and the ministry.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres’s trip to China, and the Pope’s visit to Israel, are among a number of other official visits that could be scuppered by the ongoing dispute.

Last updated: 2:23pm, March 6 2014