Israeli foreign ministry strike clouds Israel-Palestinian talks

08:56, August 25, 2010      

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Direct negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington next week may get off to a rockier start than even both sides expected due to striking Israeli Foreign Ministry workers.

The ministry's worker's committee, in an ongoing strike action over a pay hike, said Tuesday that employees at the Washington embassy will not perform several crucial duties connected to next week's visit, including administration, coordination and logistics.

"The strike will inconvenience the visit," a government official who requested anonymity told Xinhua Tuesday afternoon.

Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren will not cooperate with the strike, according to a ministry source who spoke to the Ha'aretz newspaper.

"It is usual that the local embassy provides infrastructure for the visit," a source who is connected with the visit said, although the Prime Minister's Office and the White House can handle logistic services for such a visit in this case.

"Our union has been warning for several weeks now that our demands have not been taken seriously by the Finance Ministry, and they have refused to engage in negotiations for three or four weeks now," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said on behalf of the striking workers.

In a previous flap over the strike several weeks ago during Netanyahu's meeting with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, the ministry criticized Mossad intelligence officials for handling several aspects of the logistics instead of ministry employees.

"We did not handle the Prime Minister's visit to Greece, and we are not dealing with other ministers traveling abroad," Palmor said.

A statement at the top of the ministry's web page said that "as of Aug. 17, the Foreign Ministry website will not be publishing communiques or statements issued by the Prime Minister's Office or the Finance Ministry."

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:燕勐)

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