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Education Minister Yuli Tamir accused the head of the Secondary School Teachers Association, Ran Erez, of running a negative publicity campaign against her, saying that Erez was complicit in much of the failings in the education system.

"For years Ran Erez has threatened and extorted the Ministry of Education," Tamir said. "He has a tremendous responsibility for the failures of the education system with which we have to deal."

Speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv, Tamir said the ad campaign against her was part of Erez's plan to pressure her and ministry officials into giving in to his demands.

"This is ugly and unworthy, especially coming from an educator," Tamir said. "This is political blackmail; thuggish and harmful behavior. The only thing Erez is interested in is ruining the teachers union and preventing reform. But his attempts will not succeed."

Erez said in response that Tamir is evading the implementation of agreements she signed with his organization, including commitments to reduce the number of pupils per class, increase teaching hours and renew talks over reforms.

"None of these agreements have been carried out to date," Erez said. "I turned to officials at the ministry and told them that if the minister would not compromise with us on issues not related to money, then we'd go on an all-out offensive. This is not blackmail, nor is it thuggish to fight for things promised to us 10 months ago. A government that signs agreements should know how to implement them."

Tamir responded by rejecting Erez's claims that the ministry was stonewalling on implementing the terms of their agreement with the teachers union.