In cost-cutting measure, Foreign Ministry to close 7 missions over three years
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In cost-cutting measure, Foreign Ministry to close 7 missions over three years

But ministry backtracks on plans to fire workers; budget agreement will see injection of some NIS 175 million to boost programs in 100 diplomatic postings

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Conference of Israeli ambassadors at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on January 3, 2017 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Conference of Israeli ambassadors at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on January 3, 2017 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Following budget negotiations with the Finance Ministry, the Foreign Ministry announced Friday it plans to close seven diplomatic missions over the next three years, while Israel’s 100 remaining overseas missions will get a boost of NIS 175 million (about $50 million) in total for increased programming.

The ministry has not yet decided which missions are to be shuttered. A committee is to submit recommendations by January 19 ahead of a final decision.

The money saved by the closures will return to the Foreign Ministry.

The ministry also backtracked on plans cut a significant number of staff, agreeing that there would be no layoffs.

Ministry workers recently received a significant wage boost as an incentive to increase their work abroad, the ministry said.

The final details of the budget will be confirmed by the end of the month.

The agreement is better than expected for ministry workers, after a document released earlier this week had proposed cutting 22 Israeli missions and eliminating 140 out of 686 of the Jerusalem-based staff.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the country’s foreign minister, has frequently talked of improving ties around the world, announcing last month that a new Israeli embassy will open in Rwanda.

But the ministry’s budget and conditions have been eroded over the past decade.

Diplomats went on strike in 2014, and again in 2016 after the treasury dragged its feet on implementing the 2014 agreement that ended the earlier strike.

Sue Surkes contributed to this report.

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