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Israeli Diplomats Sport Jeans, Sandals In Protest Over Wages

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Israeli diplomats started wearing jeans and sandals to work and caused a series of diplomatic faux pas in a protest over salary conditions, a foreign ministry official said Tuesday.

The increasingly public dispute compounded Israel's diplomatic woes at a time when it is struggling to contain the backlash from a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid fleet last month that frayed relations with key ally Turkey.

"For several days now, foreign ministry employees have come to work in jeans and sandals, without wearing ties, to protest their treatment," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"They are following orders from the employees' committee, which has accused the treasury of dragging its feet in six months of salary negotiations."

The labor dispute also saw employees shirk routine duties, with some visiting foreign dignitaries recently being abandoned by their Israeli ministry drivers and forced to ask their embassies to send cars.

On Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon welcomed visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov without a customary ceremony -- because no one organized one.

And Uzi Arad, national security adviser to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was forced to cancel a trip to Moscow because the Israeli embassy there said it could not accommodate him.

The dispute came in the wake of the botched May 31 seizure of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in international waters, during which helicopter-borne Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists, one a dual U.S. citizen.

The incident severely strained relations with Turkey, and sparked international outrage over Israel's four-year blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Fox 5
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