Israel will close seven diplomatic representations abroad, diplomatic officials said on Friday, even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that widening ties with Africa, Asia and Latin America is a top priority.
The cuts are within the framework of the 2019 state budget that the cabinet approved on Friday morning.
Under the plan, the seven delegations will be closed over the next three years, with three closed the first year, and two during each of the next two years after that.
The move comes even as Netanyahu has talked of opening new offices, especially in Africa. He told Rwandan President Paul Kagame at a meeting in Nairobi in November that Israel would open an embassy in Kigali in the near future.
One diplomatic official said that this still may be the case, and although Israel will be forced to close some embassies or consulates, the money saved could be used to open another one in an area deemed important. Rwanda is one of Israel’s top allies in Africa.
“It will be a question of priorities,” the official said.
In a Finance Ministry proposal circulated to the ministers earlier in the week, the plan was to close 22 of the country’s 103 delegations abroad, and to do away with 140 Foreign Ministry jobs. The number of delegations to be closed was reduced to seven, and the cut of the Foreign Ministry job was scrapped altogether.
No decision has yet been made regarding which embassy or consulate to close, with this decision expected to take a number of months.