The High Court of Justice ruled on Sunday to allow the Education Ministry to implement a plan that would change the status of "national priority areas" gradually, eliminating the need to fire 1,500 teachers in schools that will lose their funding due to the decision. However, a panel of three judges headed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch criticized the government, saying it had not done enough to act on the Court's 2006 ruling. In February 2006, the High Court canceled the 'national priority areas' status after the map for distributing some NIS 80 million in supplemental funding was deemed unfair by the Court because it heavily favored Jewish areas over Arab ones in education spending. The Education Ministry was ordered to develop a map that was in keeping with the principle of 'equality.' At the end of May, 15 months after the High Court decision, the Education Ministry announced in an internal memo that it was seeking legal ways to delay implementing the ruling. However, the deadline for firing teachers - a move that would be necessary for dozens of schools if the national priority map were canceled for next year - was only two days later, on May 31. A week ago, teachers at 56 schools in the periphery declared a strike to protest the government's move. Concurrently, the teachers unions announced that they would hold up the 2007-2008 school year nationwide if a solution were not found for the teachers set to lose their jobs. Haviv Rettig contributed to this report.