07 | 12 | 2019

Negotiations between the Finance Ministry and the Israel Teachers’ Union (ITU) resulted in an agreement on Friday, August 30, which averts a strike at elementary schools that was set to begin today, Sunday, September 1, the first day of the new school year. ITU General-Secretary Yaffa Ben-David said the agreement was “an unprecedented achievement for the teachers of the country.”

On Thursday night, 2,000 teachers demonstrated outside the Tel Aviv Museum, in an attempt to pressure the Education and Finance ministries to accede to their demands, most of which focus on pensions, the proposed reforms for special education, and conditions for teachers who work at multiple schools. Among the demonstrators were Hadash MKs Ofer Cassif and Youssef Jabareen and Hadash activists in the ITU.

A public opinion poll conducted last Saturday, August 24, revealed that 78% of Arab voters in Israel support the Joint List’s entering a coalition after the September 17 elections.

The poll, conducted by the Statnet Research Institute, a research and survey institute specializing in the Arab sector, included 160 subjects from all Arab-Palestinian communities in Israel: Muslims, Christians and Druze of a variety ages. In response to the question “Do you support or oppose the Joint List entering a coalition?,” 53% said they would support the Joint List entering a moderate-left government; 14% said they would support the Joint list joining a blocking majority; and 11% said they would enter any government coalition.

Israel’s Supreme Court banned on Sunday, August 25, a pair of senior members of the extreme-right and racist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party from running in the general elections to be held on September 17.

Justices also threw out a petition submitted by the Likud and Otzma Yehudit demanding that the high court rescind the decision of the Knesset’s Central Elections Committee (CEC) earlier this month to reject a petition disqualifying the Joint List from running in the elections.

Maya Brand-Feigenbaum, 18, from Kiryat Tivon near Haifa, first declared her refusal to be conscripted into the Israeli army on July 14 and was subsequently sentenced to two prison terms, during which she spent at total of 27 days behind bars. After appearing before the Conscience Committee earlier this week, she was granted an exemption from military service.

Joint List chair, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), was interviewed by Israel’s Reshet Bet (Network B) radio on Sunday, August 25, to discuss scenarios towards and just after the September 17 general elections. Odeh told his audience that Kahol-Lavan (Blue & White) chairman MK Benny Gantz is apparently aiming to form a unity government with the Likud and far-right parties after the elections. If this happens, Odeh predicted that, leading a projected bloc of 11 to 13 seats in the Kneset, he will emerge as the first Arab head of the Knesset opposition parties.

“Gantz is neither politically or intellectually ripe,” Odeh said, adding that if Gantz “had Rabin’s courage – I would have had the courage to join a blocking bloc.”

Hadash attacked far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, August 21, for refusing to condemn US President Donald Trump’s comments that Jews who vote for the Democratic Party show “great disloyalty.”

The main Zionist opposition party, Kahol Lavan (Blue & White), said Thursday, August 22, that the Joint List is not a likely candidate to join a coalition they hope to lead after the September 17 elections. Blue & White MK Asaf Zamir told that “there is no possibility for cooperation with Odeh’s list.”

Israel’s leading governmental party, the Likud headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the virulently racist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, August 20, demanding that it rescind last week’s decision by the Knesset’s Central Elections Committee (CEC) which rejected a petition to disqualify the Joint List from running in next month’s general elections.

The appellants to the Supreme Court argue that the representatives of the Joint List should be disqualified for incitement to “racism,” support for a terrorist organization, and the denial of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

Hadash lawmaker Ayman Odeh, the chair of the Joint List, called on Saturday, August 17, for former Prime Minister Ehud Barak to withdraw from the Knesset race. This comes after a tweet by Barak, in which he wrote: “Arden, Petah Tikva is not Umm al-Hiran; citizens are allowed to demonstrate.”

Odeh condemned Barak, who is number 10 on the Democratic Union slate, for a post, he wrote on Facebook in which he called on Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan not to stifle escalating protests against Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit in Petah Tikva.

Police attacked Hadash lawmaker MK Ofer Cassif on Friday, August 16, for waving a Palestinian flag, during a protest in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem against the increased presence of settlers in the area. Cassif’s parliamentary aide was hit and detained by police.

Some 30 protesters, Israeli peace activists and residents of Sheikh Jarrah were attending the quiet protest. At one point police officers moved in to seize Palestinian flags from them. While the law does not prohibit demonstrating with a Palestinian flag, individual police officers are allowed to determine whether its presence could “disturb the peace.”

Residents of the West Bank Palestinian town of Yatma, 15km south of Nablus, reported on Tuesday, August 13, an apparent “price tag” hate crime in which in tires of several cars were punctured and the slogan “Jews don’t remain silent” followed by a Star of David was spray-painted on a building during the course of the previous night.

The Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din confirmed the residents’ account, saying the phrase was scrawled by settlers on a building near the entrance of the town. The defaced building serves as offices for the commercial mobile network operator Jawwal.

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