Cablegate: Pa Strikes Continue Despite Court Order
DE RUEHJM #0628 1011455
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101455Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
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INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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TAGS: PGOV ECON ELAB KPAL KWBG
SUBJECT: PA STRIKES CONTINUE DESPITE COURT ORDER
REF: A. JERUSALEM 615
B. JERUSALEM 588
1. (SBU) Summary. The PA Employees Union and the Palestinian
Teachers Union continued their strike on April 10 in defiance
of a Palestinian High Court order. The High Court issued an
injunction against the strike on April 9 and ordered the
union to present its case at a follow-up hearing on April 30.
Approximately 1500 PA employees demonstrated peacefully in
front of the Prime Minister's office on April 9. A number of
PLC members, including the head of the Fatah parliamentary
bloc, spoke in support of the employees' demands. In public
comments, PM Salam Fayyad praised the role of the judicial
system as a crucial pillar of good governance. There were
continuing mediation efforts ongoing April 10. End Summary.
Strikes Continue, Despite Court Order
2. (SBU) On April 9, the Palestinian High Court agreed to
review the PA petition to block the strike, which the
government had filed in accordance with President Abbas'
April 6 decree (reftels). The court ordered the strike be
suspended, pending a hearing set for April 30. It gave the
unions fifteen days to present their case to the court. In
public comments after the court hearing, Fayyad praised the
role of an independent judiciary in building the foundations
of good government.
3. (SBU) The strikes continued on April 10, with PA schools
closed and other PA offices open only part of the day. PA
Employees Union head Bassam Zakarneh complained that the
union's lawyer had been ordered out of the High Court hearing
and said that, because the court had "refused" to hear the
union's position, the union would "consider next steps" once
it received the High Court's order in writing.
Unions' Protest Peacefully, Get Politicians' Support
4. (SBU) Approximately 1500 PA employees demonstrated
peacefully in front of the Prime Minister's office for about
ninety minutes on April 9. A number of speakers expressed
support for the employees and urged the government to meet
their demands. Speakers included prominent members of the
Palestine Legislative Council (PLC), including the head of
the Fatah bloc Azzam al-Ahmad.
5. (SBU) On April 10, Azzam al-Ahmad continued his efforts to
mediate an end to the dispute (as outlined ref A). In a
meeting with President Abbas, Al-Ahmad asked Fayyad to freeze
the government's actions against the striking workers.
Fayyad refused. However, Fayyad's representatives (including
Cabinet Secretary Sa'adi al-Krunz) continued to meet with
union leaders throughout the day.
6. (SBU) The court ruling was a victory for the government,
but the Fatah-inspired agitation against the government has