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Teachers pause strike ahead of talks with PA

Jan. 29, 2013 5:11 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 30, 2013 5:29 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- The general union of teachers says classes will resume Wednesday and Thursday across the occupied West Bank after a sit-in Tuesday during a Palestinian Authority cabinet meeting.

Bassam Naim, a spokesman for the union, said a committee of experts, teachers and government officials would meet Wednesday in the hopes of coming to an agreement.

Naim said he hoped the crisis would end soon after teachers announced plans Saturday to hold a three-day strike in protest of irregular salary payments by the Palestinian Authority.

An earlier deadline of Feb. 5 was set to escalate the strike action if a solution is not found.

PA-Israel meeting set

Also Tuesday, a spokesman said Ministry of Finance officials would meet with their Israeli counterparts to discuss resuming the transfer of taxes withheld by Israel since November.

Rami Mahdawi told Ma'an that Wednesday's meeting would discuss Israel's position to resuming the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues, which have been withheld as punishment for the UN's acceptance of Palestine as a non-member state in November.

The meeting is part of monthly talks between Palestinian and Israeli officials to discuss the issue of tax transfers, Mahdawi added.

PA minister of economy Jawad al-Naji told Ma'an this week that he expects the Israeli government to stop withholding tax revenues in the near future.

Since early December, Israel has withheld around $100 million in monthly tax revenue it collects on behalf of the PA, aggravating a financial crisis.

Full salaries for public sector workers have not been paid in almost three months and government initiatives to increase revenue by collecting years worth of electricity and water bills from the public have been hampered by street protests.

Israel has previously frozen payments to the PA during times of heightened security and diplomatic tensions, provoking strong international criticism, such as when the UN cultural body UNESCO granted the Palestinians full membership a year ago.
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