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Israel Readies for General Strike - 2003-11-02

Israelis filled up their cars at gasoline stations on Sunday, after trade unionists cut fuel supplies ahead of a planned nationwide general strike.

Israel's Federation of Trade Unions, the Histadrut, warned motorists on Sunday that fuel in gas stations across the country would run out by the end of the day.

The warning came ahead of a general strike scheduled to begin on Monday, after talks broke down between the unions and the government over planned cutbacks in the national budget.

The planned strike is an intensification of industrial action that began four weeks ago, when Israeli government employees stopped answering telephones, and refused to receive members of the public at their offices.

Starting Monday, the international airport will be closed, and all public transport will come to a halt.

The trade unions are also planning to cut supplies of water and electricity.

In response, the Israeli government is threatening to apply to the labor courts for emergency rulings on back-to-work orders for employees in the fuel industry and other key sectors of the economy.