Thursday, March 18, 2010

Britian will soon cease all British passport services in Israel

**** UPDATED ****

It all started with an email that was circulating amongst the British community in Israel that Britain was to cease all passport services in Israel and that from May 3rd, we would have to apply directly to the embassy in Paris, France of all places!

Some thought that it was a hoax or some kind of April Fools joke. I happen to have a contact in the British Consulate in Tel Aviv so I wrote to her. She passed me to the head of passport services who unfortunately confirmed the rumours.

We won't even be able to apply for renewals by post to the UK. We will have to go through Paris.

The Consulate insisted that this was all part of a planned global restructuring:

This is part of a global policy by the British Government to streamline its overseas passport operation to reduce administration costs while improving security and maintaining a high quality of customer service.

I fail to understand how sending British passports, original birth and marriage certificates through the post from Israel to Paris can improve security.

I fail to understand how he can possibly claim with a straight face that this will maintain a high quality of customer service. When they cease to process all passport requests in Israel it will mean no customer service at all!

I'm also curious to know why this radical change of practice was not officially publicised. Indeed it still isn't. The Consulate informs me that they will have an official notice up on the web site by the beginning of April. Only four weeks before this is supposed to come into effect. It looks very much as if this has come as a surprise to them as well.

Nothing the official reply I received will succeed in quashing the rumours that this move by the British Government is somehow connected to accusations that Mossad used British passports in Dubai.

If this is the case, why punish British citizens living in Israel?

I received an email from Melanie Phillips. She is of the opinion that there is no connection between Dubai and the British Government's decision to close the passport office in Tel Aviv. It's simply that Britain can no longer afford to behave as if it's a world power anymore. Staff numbers are being cut back all over the world, not just in Israel.

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