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Israel closes embassies around the world as diplomats strike

(Reuters) – Israeli diplomats launched an unprecedented strike on Sunday, forcing the complete closure of embassies around the world as they escalated a dispute over pay, officials said.

The industrial action has already threatened to postpone a visit by Pope Francis to Israel planned for May – one of 25 trips by foreign officials affected by a work slowdown the diplomats began on March 5 when wage talks broke down.

By escalating the action to a full strike – the first by the diplomatic corps since the country’s establishment in 1948 – the diplomats will close all of Israel’s 102 missions abroad, paralyzing most diplomatic work with other countries and the United Nations.

„We are completely shutting down the (foreign ministry) office and missions abroad. This is the first time ever,“ ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

Another ministry official…

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