The Education Ministry is suspending its decision to dismiss civic studies supervisor Adar Cohen. Instead, he can take a paid leave until a specially convened committee holds a hearing about his status.

Cohen was informed two weeks ago that he was being fired from his job. He appealed that decision, and it was during a hearing on the issue in Jerusalem Labor Court yesterday that the ministry announced it is freezing his dismissal.

Cohen's firing created a public controversy; critics of the decision argued that the Education Ministry had acted illegitimately on the basis of partisan political motivations, rather than objective professional criteria.

"We've conducted long, continuing negotiations, and both sides showed willingness to compromise on important issues," the labor court judge stated at yesterday's hearing. "The Education Ministry and [Cohen] invested considerable thought and reached understandings, and the most important one is their request that the media not intervene in this process. It was decided to stage an exceptional 'post facto hearing.' Both sides agreed to this hearing."

In weeks leading up to the dismissal notification, hundreds of teachers and academics expressed support for Cohen. They argued that he was ousted for political reasons, such as his approval of a textbook that some said criticized Israel.

More than 600 teachers signed a letter saying that "as civil studies teachers, we are witness to a series of attacks against [Cohen]. Claims about faulty management on his part are unfounded. As civil studies teachers, we support him without qualification."