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Budget Deficit Freezes Israeli Foreign Ministry Activities Abroad

Budget Deficit Freezes Israeli Foreign Ministry Activities Abroad

Tuesday, 10 September, 2019 - 08:45
FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon attend a ceremony for the signing of a housing agreement in Sderot, Israel April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat
The general controller of the Israeli Ministry of Finance announced the freezing of financial activities in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs following a severe budget deficit.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials said the decision meant that “the ministry and its diplomatic missions in the world will be almost completely paralyzed.”
 
Diplomatic sources said that the controller ordered Israeli diplomats abroad to put any plans for new spending on hold due to a major budget deficit. He also asked Israeli missions around the world to immediately refrain from any work-related travel as well as “initiatives and steps related to new contractual relationships.”

Fees paid to outside consultants, overtime pay and entertainment expenses by Israeli missions abroad, were also halted.
 
Nearly two months ago, Israeli ambassadors said the deficit was caused by a cut of 350 million shekels ($100 million) from the ministry’s budget.
 
“There is no budget to buy a train ticket or even a cup of coffee during business meetings,” they wrote in internal correspondence. At the same time, ministry employees announced a labor dispute, in the wake of a plan to cut their salaries.

A close aide to Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said efforts were underway to resolve the crisis, but the Finance Ministry insisted on its decision to stop spending on foreign affairs “because of a gap between the ministry’s budget approved through the budget law and the planned spending of the ministry”.

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