Most of the teachers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will receive a 1,000 shekel ($231) down payment on Tuesday with the rest of the money before the end of the month, Naser al-Shaer, the education minister, said.

The teachers have been on strike since the start of the new school year on September 2.

Bassam Zakarneh, the head of the government employees' union, said that despite the teachers' suspension of their strike, other public sector workers would not return to work.

Crisis

Tens of thousands of government employees went on strike in protest against unpaid salaries and the perceived failings of the Hamas-led government.

Government wages have been largely unpaid since Hamas took power in March.

Hamas was thrown into a crisis when foreign donor countries reacted to their election by cutting off aid to the government and Israel refused to release revenues it collects on the Palestinian government's behalf.

Back payments

Al-Shaer said: "Teachers will return to the school starting tomorrow [Tuesday]. They will be paid 1,000 shekels immediately and the outstanding amount will be paid not later than November 20."

The average salary of a Palestinian teacher is under 3,000 shekels ($694).

Al-Shaer said that the government was working on a formula to secure back payments of salaries that had not been paid.

He said: "Education is one of the most pressing issues and we must deal with it first."

Power struggle

The strike was the first major work stoppage of its kind since Hamas came to power and it amounted to a challenge to the government's authority by the rival Fatah movement, which strongly backed the strike.

Most government workers are affiliated to Fatah, the party led by Mahmoud Abbas, the president, who has been in a power struggle with Hamas since they won elections in January.

Ismail Haniya, the prime minister and Hamas leader, and Abbas held talks on Monday over the possibility of forming a unity government, which might help put an end to the crisis.