Israel’s diplomats are right to go on strike, says the man who represents the country in Britain.
Ambassador Daniel Taub’s support for the action that has seen the closure of Israeli embassies across the world puts him in direct opposition to prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
His government has been blamed by Mr Taub for providing poor working conditions, insufficient salaries and a lack of properly-trained staff.
The strike has led to speculation that the foreign service may be irrecoverably damaged.
“I fear for its future. We are deeply frustrated that we are unable to fulfil the mission that is both our career and our passion,” Mr Taub writes in today’s JC.
“But it is precisely because we know how vital the diplomatic corps is in the quest for Israel’s security and prosperity that we are campaigning to protect it.”
Highlighting the efforts of diplomats throughout Israel’s history, Mr Taub says the future of the corps is linked to the nation itself.
Staff in Israel’s Foreign Affairs ministry claim that Treasury officials are refusing to hold serious talks. Mr Taub has had to cancel speaking engagements and postpone projects.
He says the diplomatic corps had been crippled by poor funding and training for years.
“The expertise we have amassed is now in jeopardy for want of being properly equipped and nurtured,” he says.
“The working conditions for Israel’s diplomats have become almost untenable.
“Salaries have not been updated in line with inflation for over a decade; there is no compensation for diplomatic spouses who sacrifice their careers to be constantly relocated; diplomats are taxed at the unique high rate of 48 per cent and receive inadequate pensions.”
Mr Taub writes that one-third of young recruits to the service quit for financial reasons.
“As a result, there is a severe dearth of candidates to fill mid-level jobs, with many positions left unfilled.
“If this situation is not rectified, we will soon not have enough staff with the training and experience to run our embassies.”
Striking diplomats have complained that a mid-level ministry employee with 13 years of experience receives a salary of only £1,500 a month before tax.
Treasury officials say diplomats exaggerate their claims and are paid double that amount.