Foreign Ministry Faces Manpower Crisis

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Israeli Foreign Ministry office building in Yerushalayim. In the background is the Bank of Israel building.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry office building in Yerushalayim. In the background is the Bank of Israel building.

The appointment this week of people to 22 positions in diplomatic missions around the world, while many more go unfilled, refocused attention on the Foreign Ministry’s acute shortage of qualified candidates, Ynet reported on Thursday.

It was indicative of the shortage that there were only 22 applicants for the 22 posts. The positions were all filled by inexperienced diplomatic corps cadets, even though some of the openings were attractive ones, such as the consul-general in Montreal and first secretary of the Israeli delegation to the U.N.

On the other hand, many were hardship assignments, like Ethiopia, India, Peru, Nigeria, Kenya, and Nepal.

The Foreign Ministry Workers Council lashed out at the government for a policy of parsimony and neglect which has seriously undermined the morale of diplomatic staff and handicapped its operations.

“Additional manpower cuts by the ministry are criminally negligent, and the citizens of Israel pay the price for it every day. The council has been sounding the alarm for a long time that the disgraceful treatment of Israeli diplomats is causing mass abandonment. The non-implementation of wage agreements — which have already been signed — is leading to a crisis,” it said in a statement.

“People don’t want to work outside the country and actually lose money,” the Council said. “There is a shortage of workers at the lower level because there aren’t enough diplomatic corps candidates courses.”

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon admitted the problem, but was hopeful about the future:

“The positions noted are positions that were designated for the candidates at the beginning of their training. It’s important to note that the Foreign Ministry does indeed find itself with an acute manpower shortage – primarily in regards to filling positions outside of Israel. The shortage is due to the wide ranging cutbacks which were made to the Ministry in recent years, and even the 10 diplomatic missions which were recently opened are facing shortages.

“The Ministry expects that in the next annual budget, manpower resources will be increased, so that representative positions outside of the country will be filled by professionals, and to ensure that the diplomatic missions can carry out their duties,” Nahshon concluded.