New Delhi: In an unprecedented development, Israel's foreign ministry has gone on an "indefinite strike", hitting its diplomatic processes across the world, including in India.
The unusual step was taken by the workers union governing the foreign ministry staff to protest the Israeli finance ministry's refusal to hike salaries for the past several years despite escalation in living costs in countries where diplomats are deputed, and not allowing their spouses to take up jobs in the country of deputation, a diplomatic official said here Monday.
Following the decision to go on "full strike" by its foreign ministry, the Israeli embassy in India here has closed down "indefinitely".
The embassy, which is "the largest in Asia", will not carry out any work till the tussle with the finance ministry is resolved, embassy spokesperson Ohad Horsandi told IANS.
An Israeli embassy statement said: "Yesterday (Sunday), the workers of the ministry of foreign affairs of Israel declared a full strike following the reluctance of the ministry of finance to solve the one-year-old work dispute over the working conditions of the Israeli diplomats and their families abroad."
"As a result, the embassy was closed today (Monday) and will remain closed until further notice. I thank you for your understanding."
According to Horsandi, the Israeli finance ministry has shown no inclination to come to the negotiating table to solve the problem.
"We hope they come to the negotiating table (with the foreign ministry). Otherwise, all embassies across the world will remain on strike," Horsandi said.
India and Israel have close and growing relations in many spheres, including defence, trade, agriculture, education, culture.
"The strike will affect everything, including diplomatic visits, exchanges, cultural plans, trade," he added.
Asked if there were any projects with India that could be hit, Horsandi said with India in election mode, no major decisions on projects were on the anvil.