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June 26, 2013 2:06 pm

Due to Strike, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Withdraws Involvement in Upcoming Kerry Visit

avatar by Zach Pontz

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem May 23, 2013. Photo: Israel GPO.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Israel Thursday won’t involve Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as the office is in the midst of a labor strike that has all but shut it down.

“We are not involved in this visit, much to our regret,” Behar Gideon, a spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The Algemeiner, noting that he was unaware of who would be handling logistics for the visit.

Israeli media reported Tuesday that hundreds of members of Kerry’s  entourage would be unable to obtain the proper visas for the visit, as the labor strike makes it impossible for the Ministry to issue the documents.

“As part of the ongoing working dispute at the MFA of Israel, we have stopped issuing visas completely. Visas for John Kerry’s entourage are no exception to that and they indeed have been refused,” Gideon told The Algemeiner. “The responsibility for that lies at the hands of the Government of Israel and more specifically within the Ministry of Treasury that refuses to have full-time negotiations with us on the issues at the core of our dispute.”

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The employees are demanding a collective agreement and are concerned about issues involving their salaries. They’re also demanding a procedure for compensating spouses who are living abroad but not working, and the halting of double taxation for diplomats.

It remains unclear how those accompanying Kerry on his visit to the country will be affected, if at all.

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