Striking Israeli nurses called off talks with the Finance Ministry Tuesday, after the sides were unable to reach a breakthrough despite reports that an agreement was imminent.

“There was progress and then there was a step back,” said Ilana Cohen, the chair of the National Association of Nurses.

Earlier Tuesday, an end to the 16-day strike seemed nigh, with the sides reportedly coming together on a compromise deal.

On Monday night, the Finance Ministry agreed to an across-the-board 12-percent salary hike for nurses, but the two sides are still at loggerheads over the implementation of the raise: the nurses demand that it be applied within the next four years, while the Treasury insists that it will come into effect slightly more gradually over a five-year period.

After conferring late into the night in the chambers of the president of the National Labor Court, Justice Nili Arad, the two sides were optimistic that the impasse would soon be overcome, Army Radio reported.

Throughout the strike, nurses have been working on a truncated “Shabbat schedule,” with bare-bones staff at hospitals and HMOs. Only essential services, procedures and surgeries have proceeded as scheduled.