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Teachers across the country will strike for two hours Thursday morning to protest the Finance Ministry's refusal to hold negotiations to finalize a collective wage agreement, teachers' unions said Wednesday.

As a result of the strike, the unions said, classes throughout the education system will be delayed until 10 A.M., with the exception of special education schools and kindergartens. The strike is part of the labor dispute declared two weeks ago by teachers' associations.

Yossi Wasserman, who heads the Teachers Union, said that for the last two years, teachers have been leading Israel in a public struggle to implement widely acceptable reforms in the education system. "During this period, we operated with societal-public responsibility and we avoided taking steps that could hurt teachers and students," he said. "But the government of Israel and the treasury continue to harm the education system, children, the public and teachers."

Ran Erez, who heads the Association of Secondary School Teachers, added: "The time has come for the treasury to come to its senses and understand that the existing situation in the education system cannot continue."