The Foreign Ministry is involved in a labor dispute due to which getting replacement passports is going to be a big problem for a growing number of overseas Israelis. The workers of the Foreign Ministry have refused to send passport refills to overseas representatives because of the ongoing dispute over salaries and this has resulted in consular services not being able to get replacement passports. Reports on Wednesday indicated that the list of affected countries included Australia, Sweden, Cyprus, Spain, Italy, Belgium, South Africa, Portugal, the United States, Chile, Germany, Belarus, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
Some of the locations are providing Israelis with a document that allows them to return homes, but they are unable to fly to any other country. The document can only be used by Israelis who are taking direct flights to Israel. Moreover, these flights have to be via Israeli airlines, or a couple of others that are ready to accept these documents. As for people who are in life-threatening situations, they have the option of turning to an exceptions committee of the Foreign Ministry that is handling individual cases. The workers of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and diplomats have been complaining about poor conditions for a number of years and have gone on strike because of it occasionally.
Likewise, some Israelis at home are also facing problems when it comes to getting their passports because the coronavirus pandemic has created a significant backlog. After the travel restrictions were removed, many Israelis have begun to make vacation plans, but a report indicates that there are almost 700,000 people who are waiting for the delivery of their passports. Some of them have been waiting for six weeks. In fact, getting an appointment for renewing passports has also become a big challenge. The Population and Immigration Authority’s offices in larger cities have also become swamped with applicants.
Tomer Moskowitz, the director of the Population and Immigration Authority, stated that the new measures could help in dealing with the crisis and ease the problem. One such measure is establishing an office in BneiBrak that would issue temporary passports to Israelis that would have a validity of two years. The fee would be around NIS 400 and the office is expected to issue about 5,000 passports by the end of this month. As for regular passports, they tend to have a lower cost of around NIS 145 and NIS 275 for children and adults, respectively.
It should be noted that the office would still offer passports at a cheaper price than the Ben Gurion Airport, where emergency passports are issued by an office for NIS 845. The next measure to be introduced is that of extra shifts for producing passports. The waiting times would be cut down at the facility with the addition of an evening shift and a night shift will also be introduced before the summer to deal with the backlog. Furthermore, Israelis having dual citizenship would be allowed to enter and exit Israel using their foreign passports till January 1st of next year.