Jerusalem: Israel and Russia have
cancelled a forthcoming visit of Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev due to a threat by workers at the Jewish state`s
foreign ministry to "ruin" the trip.
Employees of the Israeli Foreign Ministry
who are demanding better salary conditions, issued the threat
yesterday through Russian media in Israel, which is monitored
closely by Moscow, that they would not participate in
preparations for Medvedev`s visit.
Israel`s ultra-nationalist Foreign Minister, Avigdor
Lieberman, who is of Russian origin and attaches immense
importance to ties with Moscow, is said to be enraged at the
employees of the ministry.
The Russians promptly decided to cancel the planned
trip, which was supposed to occur in two weeks, to avoid any
embarrassment for the Russian President on his arrival in
An official Foreign Ministry statement to this effect
is expected to be made public later today, Ha`aretz online
"Regretfully, the stupidity and negligence of the
Finance Minister and his deputies are harming the national
interests and foreign relations of the country. We call upon
the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to take responsibility
and act immediately to save Israel`s Foreign Ministry," The
Foreign Ministry workers` committee said in its response over
The management of the Foreign Ministry released a
letter yesterday announcing that in response to the steps
taken by the Foreign Ministry workers, all ministry
appointments will be frozen and overtime pay will be suspended
until the end of the workers` action.
Foreign Ministry workers have been trying to improve
their salaries relative to the pay scale of Defence Ministry
and Mossad workers.
The management sketched out a compromise proposal with
the Finance Ministry several days ago in which it was agreed
that the salaries of diplomats would increase by 8 per cent to
10 per cent, on an average.
Most of the Foreign Ministry workers who attended a
meeting last week voted against the proposed compromise deal,
and in favour of taking increased steps to disrupt the
activities of the Foreign Ministry.