ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 143

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Strike looms after court rejects state’s request to order teachers to work

Treasury source claims maximum offered after reports that sides still far apart on some issues, with one day to go before planned opening of school

Joshua Davidovich is The Times of Israel's Deputy Editor

Teachers and maintenance staff of the Gamla primary school in Katzrin, Golan Heights get ready for next week's school year opening on August 22, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
Teachers and maintenance staff of the Gamla primary school in Katzrin, Golan Heights get ready for next week's school year opening on August 22, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.

Strike looms after court rejects state’s request to order teachers to work

The national labor court rejects the state’s request that it issue injunctions forcing teachers to work on September 1.

The court says its decision is due to a technicality — the state had submitted its petition as a response to another petition — and that the state can resubmit its request if it chooses to.

High Court rejects hunger striker’s release, says he should ‘come to his senses’

The High Court has rejected a petition for the release of a Palestinian prisoner who has been on hunger strike for nearly six months and whose lawyer says is in danger of “sudden death.”

Khalil Awawdeh is protesting being held by Israel in what’s known as administrative detention, a practice in which detainees suspected of militant activities are imprisoned for months or years without charge or trial.

In recent pictures he resembles a human skeleton, his skin tightly stretched over a bony frame.

Khalil Awawdeh, a Palestinian who has been on a hunger strike for several months protesting being jailed without charge or trial under what Israel refers to as administrative detention, lies in bed at Asaf Harofeh Hospital in Be’er Ya’akov, Israel, Wednesday, August 24, 2022. (AP/Mahmoud Illean)

Awawdeh’s lawyer, Ahlam Haddad, says Israel accuses him of being a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group, an allegation he denies. Islamic Jihad demanded his release as part of a cease-fire that ended a flare-up of violence in Gaza earlier this month, but did not identify him as a member.

Haddad says the 40-year-old Awawdeh weighs 37 kilograms (around 80 pounds) and is suffering from neurological damage. He took vitamins over two weeks in June when he thought his case was being resolved but has otherwise only had water since the strike began in March, his family says.

“He is in a stage between life and death,” Haddad says. “According to the medical literature, he is in danger of a sudden death.”

In its ruling, the court says it “hopes that the petitioner will come to his senses and stop the hunger strike,” adding that it was confident he would receive the necessary medical care.

Israel has officially suspended his arrest, but he remains in custody at an Israeli hospital.

Israel says administrative detention is needed to keep dangerous terrorists off the streets without revealing sensitive intelligence. Palestinians and rights groups say it denies detainees the basic right of due process.

Education Ministry, National Unity party criticize court gambit to block strike

The Education Ministry confirms in a statement that it does not support the state’s attempt to block a possible teachers’ strike via court order, saying that “legal threats won’t help solve the education crisis.”

The statement says that most issues have already been resolved, and that the ministry will continue to work toward concluding negotiations.

The statement underlines tensions between the Education Ministry and treasury, which has been leading the talks and requested an injunction.

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton’s National Unity party releases a statement calling on Prime Minister Yair Lapid to convene the full cabinet to find a solution, essentially urging that responsibility be removed from Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman’s sole purview.

“Israel’s government has responsibility for the education system, not the labor court,” it says.

“The government should have convened two weeks ago, and not left students, parents and teachers in a state of uncertainty,” it says.

Ex-spy Pollard flip-flops on Shaked endorsement

Former American spy Jonathan Pollard has pulled his support for Ayelet Shaked just a few hours after making waves by endorsing her, citing her refusal to cast-off centrist partner Yoaz Hendel or commit to only working with fellow conservatives.

“After the things I said regarding Ayelet Shaked this morning, it became clear to me that she refuses to remove Yoaz Hendel from her list and to commit that she will only join a right-wing government. This raises a real concern that she will once again transfer votes from the right to the left. Therefore, I retract my support for her,” he tells right-wing news outlet Israel National News.

Earlier in the day, Pollard, who now lives in Israel and holds Israeli citizenship,  released a video endorsing Shaked — but pointedly not her Zionist Spirit party — saying he thought that she had learned from her “mistakes” in joining a broad government made up of parties across the political spectrum, or as he put it, “misplaced loyalty.”

The move drew some criticism from other right-wing politicians, who had seemingly sought his support.

Shaked, who is polling poorly, indicates that she is unruffled by the about-face, and says he only flipped due to pressure from other right-wingers who had sought his endorsement and had left him “in an impossible situation”

“I’m happy he has removed himself from the eye of the storm. An Israeli hero like Jonathan deserves to be at the heart of the consensus and not turned into a target for the poisonous dialogue of Israeli politics,” she says in a statement.

State asks court to block teachers from striking as talks appear to stall

Israel’s state prosecutor’s office is asking for a court injunction to block teachers from striking on Thursday, the first day of school, as talks seemingly hit a cul-de-sac.

The request, which is backed by Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, comes despite the fact that Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton is opposed to the move.

The request cites the “massive damage” extending summer break for striking teachers would wreak on both parents and kids.

Long-running wage talks appeared to progress earlier Tuesday, but sources later indicated that an agreement was still a long way off, and the move to block the strike may signal that treasury officials no longer believe the gaps can be bridged.

“We’ve reached the limit of what we can offer the teachers,” a treasury source is quoted saying by Channel 12 news.

Kan reports that the prosecutor’s office decided to side with Liberman due to the fact that the Finance Ministry is a direct party to the talks with the teachers’ union.

Zelensky meets IAEA head over threats to Zaporizhzhia nuclear station

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has met with top UN nuclear inspectors in Kyiv ahead of their visit to inspect the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant as intense fighting raged across southern Ukraine, his office says.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi arrived in Kyiv late Monday at the head of a 14-strong team ahead of a visit to the Zaporizhzhia plant — Europe’s largest atomic facility — which has been occupied by Russian troops since early March.

“This is probably one of the top-priority questions regarding safety of Ukraine and the world today,” Zelensky says, calling for the “immediate de-militarization of the plant” and its transfer to “full Ukrainian control.”

The plant was targeted over the weekend by fresh shelling, Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom says, with Moscow and Kyiv trading blame for attacks around the complex of six nuclear reactors located on the banks of the Dnipro River.

Police chief says he won’t step down, will continue to cooperate with Meron probe

Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai says he will not step down following damning findings from a state commission of inquiry that found him and other senior officials chiefly responsible for the 2021 Mount Meron crush that left 45 people dead.

“Together with colleagues in the senior staff, I will continue to lead the Israel Police during this complicated time, on the way to achieving goals in the fight against crime and war on terror,” he says in a note to officers.

Shabtai says he will respect whatever decision the panel ultimately makes, and that the police force will continue to cooperate with it, praising the work of the committee.

“We at the police and myself as its head called for an unfettered commission of inquiry from the start, and we’ve emphasized that we will cooperate with it to ensure that an event like this never repeats in the State of Israel,” he writes.

The commission released initial findings earlier that found Shabtai and other top police to blame for the 2021 disaster, as well as former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former public security minister Amir Ohana and others.

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai (L) and Public Security Minister Amir Ohana at the bonfire lighting celebrations for Lag B’Omer, hours before the tragedy, April 30, 2021 (Israel Police)

The Likud party responded to the findings by criticizing the timing as politically motivated to affect upcoming elections.

Shlomo Diskind, whose brother was among the victims, tells the Kan broadcaster that he is disappointed more heads are not rolling, noting that only northern police chief Shimon Lavi has stepped down in the wake of the disaster.

“Eighteen people got warnings today due to their responsibility for the disaster, and only one has gone home, and not because of what happened but because he understood where it was going. Unfortunately, the rest of them will continue to hold their jobs and will still be there for the next annual pilgrimage,” he says.

Teacher-treasury wage talks still ‘far’ from a deal — reports

Despite optimism surrounding wage talks between the teachers’ union and Finance Ministry, reports indicate that “major gaps” remain between the sides, with less than 48 hours before schools are scheduled to open for the new academic year.

Marathon negotiations between the sides remain “good,” according to sources involved, but the possibility of a strike delaying the start of the school year is still on the table, the Ynet news site reports.

“We’re far from signing an agreement,” a source is quoted as saying by Channel 12 news.

Among the outstanding issues are when teachers will have off, and whether school administrators will have greater flexibility to fire teachers, the channel reports.

Pakistan flooding worst in country’s history, premier says

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif says flooding that has submerged a third of his country and left over 1,100 dead is “the worst in the history of Pakistan,” adding it would cost at least $10 billion to repair damaged infrastructure spread across the country.

The rains that began in June have unleashed powerful floods across the country that have washed away swathes of vital crops and damaged or destroyed more than a million homes.

Authorities and charities are struggling to accelerate aid delivery to more than 33 million people, a challenging task in areas cut off because many roads and bridges have been critically damaged.

This aerial view shows a flooded residential area in Dera Allah Yar town after heavy monsoon rains in Jaffarabad, Pakistan on August 30, 2022. (Fida Hussain/AFP)

Displaced people have been wandering on what dry land remains, seeking shelter, food and drinking water.

“To see the devastation on the ground is really mind-boggling,” Pakistan’s climate change minister Sherry Rehman tells AFP.

“When we send in water pumps, they say, ‘Where do we pump the water?’ It’s all one big ocean, there’s no dry land to pump the water out.”

The Pakistani city of Sukkur as seen from space on August 28, 2022, inundated with floodwaters. (Planet Labs PBC)
The Pakistani city of Sukkur, as seen from space on August 2, 2022, before deadly flooding. (Planet Labs PBC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She says “literally a third” of the country was under water, comparing scenes from the disaster to a dystopian movie.

The Indus River, which runs the length of the South Asian nation, is threatening to burst its banks as torrents of water rush downstream from its tributaries in the north.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres says Pakistan’s flooding, caused by weeks of unprecedented monsoon rains, were a signal to the world to step up action against climate change.

“Let’s stop sleepwalking toward the destruction of our planet by climate change,” he said in a video message to an Islamabad ceremony launching the funding appeal. “Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country.”

UN rights chief says Israel blackballing monitors, asks what country is hiding

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is accusing Israel of increasingly blocking rights monitors seeking access to Palestinian territories and raising the possibility of a cover-up by Jerusalem.

Bachelet says 15 staffers from “my Office in Palestine – which has been operating in the country for 26 years – had no choice but to leave” in 2020 and have not been allowed back in since, with Israel refusing to process visa requests or to discuss the matter with her office.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, attends a meeting of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, June 17, 2020. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

“Israel’s treatment of our staff is part of a wider and worrying trend to block human rights access to the occupied Palestinian territory,” Bachelet says in a statement released by the OHCHR.

“This raises the question of what exactly the Israeli authorities are trying to hide.”

Israel — backed at times by the United States — has long accused the UN’s Human Rights Council of bias against it and has generally refused to cooperate with its investigators.

In 2020, Israel froze ties with Bachelet’s office in response to her decision to publish a blacklist of 112 companies that do business in West Bank settlements.

Saudis sentence woman to 45 years for online posts, rights group says

A Saudi woman has been jailed for 45 years for her social media posts, a rights group says citing court documents, marking the second such case in weeks.

Nourah al-Qahtani received the heavy sentence on appeal after she was convicted of “using the internet to tear the (country’s) social fabric” and “violating public order” via social media, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) says.

She was convicted under the kingdom’s Counter-Terrorism and Anti-Cyber Crime Law, DAWN adds.

Few details are available about Qahtani, who does not appear to have an active Twitter account. She was arrested in July 2021 and convicted by the Specialised Criminal Court, DAWN says, adding that her appeal was earlier this month.

“Only weeks after this month’s shocking 34-year sentence of Salma al-Shehab, Qahtani’s 45-year sentence… shows how emboldened Saudi authorities feel to punish even the mildest criticism from its citizens,” says Abdullah Alaoudh, DAWN’s director of research for the Gulf region.

There is no immediate comment from the Saudi authorities.

Ex-spy Pollard endorses Shaked despite her ‘misplaced loyalty’

Former American spy Jonathan Pollard has released a video endorsing Ayelet Shaked, leader of the fledgling Zionist Spirit party, making his first intentional public foray into Israeli politics.

“Because of my unqualified love of this country and my dedication to its survival and well being, I must now endorse someone who I know will serve Israel in a way that will safeguard both our core interests and our honor. That person is Ayelet Shaked,” he says in a video posted to social media.

Speaking in English, Pollard chides Shaked for her “misplaced loyalty” in Israel’s last government, but says he thinks she has changed.

“I truly believe that she realizes the mistakes she made and will not repeat her error,” he says. “We need her now, free and clear of the bad influences that hurt both her personal reputation and her political credibility.”

He does not mention Shaked’s party, which is currently not forecast to make it into the Knesset, though it may get a boost from the endorsement, which had apparently been sought by other right-wing parties.

Shaked tells Army Radio she did not pursue Pollard’s support, but she’s happy for the backing of the right-wing cause celebre.

“It’s always good in politics when someone gives you support and I hope the public hears his words,” she says.

Pollard, a former US Navy analyst, served 30 years in prison for passing secrets to Israel. in the 1980s He moved to Israel in 2020, and though Israeli officials avoided fanfare to keep from angering Washington, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu nonetheless greeted him on the tarmac, in what was seen as a bid to boost his own electoral chances.

Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) greets released US spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard and his wife Esther at Ben Gurion Airport, December 30, 2020 (Courtesy)

Reacting to the endorsement, Likud MK Shlomo Karhi tweets, and then deletes, “This is like going on another spy mission for someone who betrayed you.”

He later says he only sought to criticize the “scammer Shaked,” and meant no disrespect to Pollard.

Simcha Rothman, a spot on whose Religious Zionism party’s slate was turned down by Pollard last week, expresses dismay at the video, but tries to keep his criticism focused on Shaked and not the former spy.

“Everything may be true. It may be that Ayelet Shaked’s actions are not evil, her convictions are not malicious, and she is not even guided by stupidity,” he says in an English-language statement. “But the bottom line is that it doesn’t really matter… If she showed weakness at the most critical moments in the history of the State of Israel and fell precisely on issues that were at the core of her actions and her ideology, she is simply not suitable for the position.”

Gantz takes credit for Meron inquiry, promises to keep digging

All the way from Japan, Defense Minister Benny Gantz pats himself on the back for demanding that a state commission of inquiry be set up to probe the Meron disaster, after that panel released initial findings blaming his erstwhile partner Benjamin Netanyahu and others for the deadly crush.

“We are not looking to place blame — we are looking for responsibility and lessons. That’s why I demanded a state committee to investigate the Meron disaster,” he tweets, above a screen capture of a list of apparent demands in coalition talks last year.

The formation of a state commission of inquiry was widely supported by mainstream politicians, though opposed by many lawmakers from the ultra-Orthodox community.

“We will press on and dig through the open wound to ensure the lessons are fully implemented,” Gantz says.

Gantz, one of the few current ministers who was also in government when the disaster occurred, is running for re-election with the National Unity party.

Moscow jails Russian-Israeli politician for post comparing Stalin to Hitler

A Moscow court has handed a 15-day prison sentence to Leonid Gozman, a liberal Russian politician with Israeli citizenship who drew parallels between Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s regime and Nazi Germany.

Gozman, 72, was sentenced over a 2020 Facebook post mocking Russian legislation that banned likening the Soviet Union to Nazi Germany.

“It’s wrong to put an equal mark between them — Hitler was an absolute evil and Stalin even worse,” he wrote at the time.

Gozman, a vocal critic of the Kremlin’s campaign in Ukraine, left Russia when it started but returned in June in what he has described as a “moral” choice.

Leonid Gozman in Moscow, Nov. 16, 2008. (Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

The Russian Justice Ministry has listed him as a “foreign agent,” a description that carries a strong pejorative meaning and implies additional government scrutiny.

He was briefly detained by police in July after the Russian Interior Ministry issued a warrant for his arrest while investigating a criminal case against him.

Gozman was accused of breaching the law that requires Russian citizens to notify authorities about a foreign citizenship or a residency permit. Gozman said he notified the authorities about his Israeli citizenship but they claimed that he failed to do so within the required time.

Lapid announces trip to Germany next month as Iran deal brews

Prime Minister Yair Lapid will fly to Berlin for a day of diplomatic meetings next month, his office says.

Lapid, who is also foreign minister, will travel to Germany on September 11 and return the next day.

The Prime Minister’s Office does not say who Lapid will meet with and there is no immediate comment on the trip from Germany.

The announcement comes as Israel has sought to influence European-led negotiations to revive the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of in 2018, effectively gutting it.

Lapid has argued that while he is not opposed to a deal, the one coming together will give Iran cash which it can use for terror activities and will not effectively keep Tehran from eventually building a nuclear weapon.

The trip will also come a month after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas raised a ruckus by accusing Israel of 50 holocausts during a joint health conference with German Chancellor Olaf Schultz.

Six days before Lapid’s planned visit, Germany will mark 50 years since 11 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian terrorists during the Olympic Games in Munich. Families of the Israeli victims have threatened to boycott the memorial over a dispute regarding compensation.

Police chief says Meron panel’s findings show government to blame, not him

Responding to a preliminary report by a state inquest that found police chief Kobi Shabtai responsible for the deadly Meron disaster, lawyers for the top cop attempt to shift blame onto the government.

Outgoing Northern District Commander Shimon Lavi (R) and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai (R) at Mount Meron ahead of the tragedy, April 29, 2021 (Israel Police)

“The preliminary findings of the inquiry show failings by ministries over several years and support the stance of the police as presented by the police commissioner in his testimony,” his defense team says, according to Ynet. “We are confident that when the panel finishes its work, it will find no fault with the police commissioner.”

Meron panel: Netanyahu did not act as expected of a prime minister

A warning letter sent to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu over his role in the deadly 2021 Mount Meron disaster says he did not “act as expected of a prime minister to fix” problems at the site.

“As someone who served as prime minister for more than 12 straight years during the relevant period, former prime minister Netanyahu knew, or should have known, that the gravesite of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Meron was poorly dealt with over the years, and posed a danger to the many participants at the pilgrimage which takes place annually on Lag Ba’Omer,” the inquiry writes in its letter.

Forty-five people were killed in a crush on a raised walkway at the northern Israel shrine, which draws hundreds of thousands of religious Jews every year for an annual celebration marking the anniversary of the death of a saintly second-century rabbi.

Israelis light candles for the 45 victims who were killed in a crush at Mount Meron during the Lag B’Omer celebrations, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. May 2, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The panel notes that the site’s safety issues were addressed by the state comptroller and brought to the government’s attention many times over the years.

“Former prime minister Netanyahu did not ensure effective monitoring of the government’s handling of the matter,” it says.

On former public security minister Amir Ohana, the committee says he “did not place the necessary weight on the severity of the danger [and] did not ask enough questions on the matter.”

Police chief Kobi Shabtai is blamed by the panel for not sufficiently planning for expected crowds at the site.

“The responses to the dangers of overcrowding in the [police’s] plan were reactionary and not preventative, and the plan relied unreasonably on the ability of [police] commanders on the ground to visually identify dangerous crowding spots.”

Letters are also sent to a number of other top officials, including former religious services minister Yaakov Avitan; Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, who is the top religious figure at the Western Wall and other holy sites; and several people involved with insuring safety procedures at Meron.

Panel probing Meron disaster signals Netanyahu, Ohana and top cop Shabtai to blame

Then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the scene of the disaster on Mount Meron, in northern Israel on April 30, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the scene of the disaster on Mount Meron, in northern Israel on April 30, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The state inquiry into the deadly 2021 Mount Meron crush has sent letters to a number of former and current senior officials signaling that the committee may find them partially responsible for Israel’s worst-ever civil disaster.

Among those receiving warnings are opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who was prime minister in May 2021 when 45 people were killed in a crush of bodies during an overcrowded pilgrimage in northern Israel.

Police chief Kobi Shabtai, Likud MK Amir Ohana, who was public security minister at the time, and northern police commander Shimon Lavi, who stepped down last month, have also received letters, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

Rescue forces and police at the scene after a mass fatality scene during the celebrations of the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer on Mount Meron, in northern Israel on April 30, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

“Our view is that those holding senior positions, who had wide and significant authority, need to bear responsibility in accordance [with those roles],” the state panel probing the disaster says.

The panel says those receiving warning letters are “liable to be negatively impacted by the inquiry’s work or findings.”

While the notices indicate who the panel thinks should be blamed for the deaths, they come in advance of a final report, which will only be published once those who received warnings are given a chance to plead their case to the committee.

In Tokyo, Gantz signs defense cooperation deal with Japan

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, left, and Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi hold their bilateral talk at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022. (AP/Shuji Kajiyama)
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, left, and Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi hold their bilateral talk at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022. (AP/Shuji Kajiyama)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and his Japanese counterpart have signed an agreement to step up cooperation in military equipment and technology, as the countries mark 70 years of ties.

Gantz tells a joint news conference after meeting with Yasukazu Hamada in Japan that strengthened defense cooperation “will elevate the 70 years of excellent ties between our countries to the strategic level.”

Their cooperation in broader areas from defense technology to information sharing and military-to-military activities “will strengthen the defense capability of each country as well as our joint contribution to peace and stability in our regions and all over the world,” he adds.

Hamada says he welcomes stronger military ties with Israel as a way to achieve a “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision advocated by Japan and the United States to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

Peace and stability in the Middle East would also help Japan’s peace and prosperity, he adds.

Iraqi strongman al-Sadr orders backers to drop protest after firefight

Influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is calling on his supporters to withdraw from the capital’s government quarter, where they have traded heavy fire with security forces in a serious escalation of a months-long political crisis gripping the nation.

Moments after the televised speech, some can be seen abandoning their positions. Iraq’s military has also announced an end to a curfew, further raising hopes that there might be a halt to the street violence.

The unrest began yesterday, when al-Sadr announced he would resign from politics and his supporters stormed the Green Zone, once the stronghold of the US military that’s now home to Iraqi government offices and foreign embassies. At least 30 people have been killed, officials said.

“This is not a revolution,” al-Sadr says.

Earlier today, supporters of al-Sadr could be seen on live television firing both machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades into the heavily-fortified area through a section of pulled-down concrete walls. Security forces armed with machine guns inside the zone sporadically returned fire.

Iraq’s government has been deadlocked since al-Sadr’s party won the largest share of seats in October parliamentary elections but not enough to secure a majority government — unleashing months of infighting between different Shiite factions. Al-Sadr refused to negotiate with his Iran-backed Shiite rivals, and his withdrawal yesterday catapulted Iraq into political uncertainty.

Iran closed its borders to Iraq this morning — a sign of Tehran’s concern that the chaos could spread, though even before al-Sadr’s order, streets beyond the capital’s government quarter largely remained calm. The country’s vital oil continued to flow, with global benchmark Brent crude trading slightly down.

Labor chief says more strikes coming if teachers win battle — report

The head of the Histadrut labor union says he is under intense pressure from public sector workers in other fields to reopen talks with the Finance Ministry should teachers win their battle for higher salaries, Channel 12 news reports.

“The deal with the teachers has left my whole sector with inferior contracts. The pressure on me is insane,” Arnon Bar-David has told treasury officials, according to the report.

Illustrative: Arnon Bar-David, then a candidate in the elections for the Histadrut, arrives to vote at a polling station, during the Histadrut elections in Tel Aviv, May 24, 2022. (Avshalom Sasoni/Flash90)

With schools set to open in just two days, teachers union head Yaffa Ben David has reported progress in long-stalled talks to increase teacher pay, raising hopes that a threatened strike that would keep schools and kindergartens shuttered will be taken off the table.

Bar-David, who heads the country’s largest union, signals that picket lines may start forming “in the coming days,” Channel 12 reports.

“I’m in a series of consultations on moving forward,” he has reportedly said.

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