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Emergency meeting ends in stalemate, teachers' strike continues

March 6, 2016 10:37 P.M. (Updated: March 7, 2016 3:06 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- An emergency meeting between Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members, teachers, and the Palestinian teachers' union ended on Sunday without reaching a solution to the teachers' strike, sources at the meeting told Ma'an.

Sources said the meeting ended in teachers rejecting the terms laid out by the PLC.

"One of the reasons no solution was reached, is the rejection from the general administration of the teachers' union to form a temporary committee separate from the union's central committee in order to lead the talks with the government," a source who attended the meeting said.

Teachers have criticized the teachers' union, which is a PLO body, as not representing their interests before the government, leading to the resignation of the head of the union late last month and calls from teachers for an independent union separate from the PLO.

On Saturday, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education announced that it intended to request that the Finance Ministry pay a quarter of overdue allowances to teachers across the occupied West Bank -- but only to teachers who were not on strike.

The announcement came as most Palestinian public school teachers in the West Bank carried on their strike for the third consecutive week, demanding that the PA implement an agreement regarding their working conditions dating back to 2013.

Palestinian teachers, who have been on strike since mid-February, are seeking higher salaries as pledged to them by the PA in the 2013 agreement that was never implemented.

The PA has threatened to take legal action against the teachers if they do not return to work immediately, with Hamdallah saying last week that they have a "responsibility" to their students.

A number of teachers have now been detained by PA security forces, who have also sought to prevent the teachers from convening at demonstrations by installing checkpoints across the West Bank and threatening public transportation drivers carrying teachers to protests.

The strike marks one of the largest demonstrations against the PA in recent years, with 20,000 teachers marching in Ramallah last month, and it has exposed a divide in Palestinian society, with several small attacks taking place in recent days.

Earlier this week, a Hebron teacher was attacked with pepper spray over her support for the protest, and on Thursday, gunshots were fired on the homes of two more teachers -- one supporting the strike, the other opposing it.
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