• ’Foreign Ministry shutdown harmful to Israel’s security’ - www.israelhayom.com

    On Sunday, the accountant general of the Foreign Ministry, Yossi Strauss, announced that all diplomatic activity was to stop immediately in light of the ministry’s deficit of several hundred million shekels.

    In recent months, ministry directors have been in talks with the Finance Ministry in an attempt to find a solution to the budget crisis, but the talks blew up on Sunday.

    In a message sent to all Israeli embassies, consulates, and diplomatic offices, Strauss ordered a stop to any new expenditures. He also ordered the Foreign Ministry to stop courses it offers; stop funding work trips for staff at every level; and not to invite foreign representatives and/or delegations to visit Israel or attend conferences in Israel.

    The decision means that the Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic work will come to a near-total halt, as will the services it provides for Israelis abroad, such as replacing passports.

    The orders from the accountant general left employees of the Foreign Ministry reeling. Hanan Gord, a member of the Union of Diplomatic Employees, told Israel Hayom that the move “put the final nail in the coffin that for 70 years has been called the ’Foreign Ministry.’ For the first time in the history of Israel, the government has stopped the work of a key ministry.”

    A Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed the reports.

    “This is an unprecedented situation in which Finance Ministry functionaries shut down a government ministry without any discussion. The heavy deficit, which we warned about, is the result of underfunding by the Budget Department [of the Finance Ministry]. The foreign minister is working to solve the crisis,” the spokesman said.