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Israeli office in Taiwan resumes operations

TAIPEI -- The Israeli representative office in Taiwan reopened its doors yesterday after Israel's diplomats ended a 10-day strike that closed the country's overseas missions, the office said.

The strike ended the previous day after the union of Israel's foreign service signed a new agreement with the Ministry of Finance to improve the job conditions of Israeli diplomats, the office said in a statement.

The Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, among Israel's 103 offices, embassies and consulates around the world, as well as the ministry's headquarters in Jerusalem, had been closed since March 23, leading to an interruption in the operations of Israel's foreign services.

It was an expansion of a dispute with the Middle Eastern country's Finance Ministry to demand better working conditions and salaries for members of the foreign service.

In early March, the foreign service union decided to go on strike after months of talks with the Ministry of Finance broke down.

Since then, Simona Halperin, Israel's representative to Taiwan, joined with other Israeli diplomats around the world in suspending public and diplomatic activities because of the labor dispute, and her office also suspended the processing of visa applications.

That affected applications for work and student visas. But visa-free treatment for Taiwanese citizens means that local people traveling to Israel for tourism or business have still been able to spend up to 90 days there without any problems.

The new agreement includes a new pension model, financial incentives for diplomatic missions in countries where the missions face many challenges and improved salaries that reflect living costs overseas, the office said.

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