Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Israel Cabinet Ministries: Ministry of the Interior

Israel Cabinet Ministries:
Ministry of the Interior

Cabinet Ministries: Table of Contents | Ministry of Justice | Ministry of Defense

2 Kaplan St., Qiryat Ben-Gurion
P.O. Box 6158, 91061 Jerusalem
Tel. (02) 6701411
Website: (Hebrew)

(Source: Israel Government Year Book)

Functions and Structure

The Ministry of the Interior plans and implements national policy in matters of local government, physical planning, population registry, emergency services and special functions, and supervision of elections and construction. The Ministry operates on two levels: the national level, which sets guidelines and policy, and the regional level, an implementation level which maintains close contact with the local authorities and the public that needs the Ministry's services.

The following staff divisions (administrations) exist on the national level: Local Authorities, Finance and Budget, Planning, Population, Emergency Services and Special Duties, the National Elections Supervisory Commission, and the National Construction Supervisory Unit. Additional staff units include the Legal Advisor's Office, Accounting Department, Personnel, Internal Auditing, Ministry Spokesman, and Public Relations.

The Ministry's district apparatus corresponds to the country's six administrative regions: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, North, Central, and South. Additional staff officer units handle Ministry affairs in Judea-Samaria and the Gaza District.

Major Functions

  • Supervision of local authorities and direction of their policies in accordance with government social and economic policy.
  • Regulation of personal and legal status of Israeli residents in matters of citizenship and registration, immigration, entrance to and exit from the country, censuses, and the dissemination of census information.
  • Physical planning throughout the country via national, district, and local outline plans.
  • Control of emergency services including evacuation, assistance, care of casualties in wartime, firefighting, and other emergency matters.
  • Organization and administration of local authority elections and preparation of electoral rolls for national (Knesset) elections.
  • Enforcement of planning and construction laws through the Construction Supervisory Unit.

Local Government

The Ministry is directly in charge of local authorities, and oversees their operations in accordance with government policy in three major areas:

  1. drafting local authorities' fiscal, budgetary, and manpower policy;
  2. handling formal legal affairs on local authority topics;
  3. counsel and guidance for the orderly and efficient management of the local authorities.

The Ministry operates through the Finance and Budget Administration and the Local Government and Administration Division and their district commissioners and officers.

The Local Authority Finance and Budget Division helps take decisions on local authorities' financial problems and assures the provision of appropriate municipal services to citizens. The Division orients local authority activities, in accordance with Government social and economic policy. The Division accomplishes this through four departments and three extra-divisional professional agencies:

The Budget Department attends to matters with financial implications for the performance of the local authorities. It prepares annual forecasts of the local authorities' budgets for Finance Ministry consideration. It provides information, statistics, and guidelines for budget preparation, monitors the approval of budgets by district commissioners, and helps audit the district budgets. The department also helps set and approve local authority tax rates and helps prepare professional opinions on tax rates and the scope of taxation.

The Grants and Loans Department is responsible for coordinating local authority tax revenues, grants, and loans. It is concerned with the distribution to the local authorities of government grants and other allocations, seeking to ensure that citizens receive the full complement of municipal services and that optimum use is made of all available sources of revenue. The department also coordinates the allocation of revenues from the Finance Ministry to the local authorities.

The Municipal Services and Development Department audits the local authorities' service and development activities, with intent to set quantitative and qualitative standards and seek opportunities for streamlining and standardization in these regards. The department monitors the delivery of services by local authorities and liaises with other government ministries that provide government services in the local authorities' areas of jurisdiction. The department also assesses recommendations for the funding of development projects and presents opinions in keeping with policies set by the Ministry's top officials.

The Audit and Inspection Unit and the Municipalities Accountant's Bureau: Ministry auditors examine financial statements not audited by outside accountants. The Audit and Inspection Unit presents its conclusions to the district commissioners and, through them, to the local authorities. In the course of the year, the unit monitors the correction of irregularities. The Budget Department and the Audit Unit maintain contact with accountants in the field in order to receive current information from them.

A new auditing program went into effect in fiscal 1985, based on specific guidelines issued by the Municipalities Accountant. The new program augmented the audit with such categories as examination of the employee salary and retirement system, insurance arrangements, allocations to business firms, etc. The requisite computations were improved and simplified. New regulations for local authority bookkeeping were issued in 1987.

Municipal Water Administration: The Ministry established this unit under the Israel Water Planning Authority in concert with the Center for Local Government and the Water Commission, for the purpose of providing a professional solution to local authorities' requirements for the funding of pipelines and waterworks.

The Administration collaborates with other ministries to attain an all-embracing financial overview for the improvement of water supply. In early 1988, a water system rehabilitation and renovation fund was established. Headed by the Ministry of the Interior and co-administered by the Finance Ministry, the Center for Local Government, the Water Commission, and the Regional Councils' Association, the fund is used to renovate antiquated water systems.

The Local Government and Administration Division is composed of six departments, with a number of interdepartmental teams for special assignments. The division, using a group objective management method, strives to realize three major aims: implementing national government policy in the local government system; developing and integrating administrative and professional skills to improve governance and administration on the local level; and improving the image of local government in the eyes of the Israeli public.

The Division has the following departments:

Local Authorities' Manpower - Major functions: setting manpower standards for local authorities; regular dealings with local and regional authority personnel using a "service commission" model; and developing tools to streamline local authority administration. The Department participated in downsizing the public-sector labor force. Local authorities were consulted throughout, thus assuring full implementation of goals, employee cooperation, and no loss of service efficiency.

The Local Authority Training Department is involved in the social and demographic changes that are occurring in local government throughout the country and the world. The training network helps local authorities develop their units and human resources, and offers such high-quality services as a training and management information pool (including books, reports, articles, and training kits); and a staff of consultants and experts in various fields, who are sent to the local authorities for specific assignments, as needed. The Department distributes many publications offering guidance to local government executives and administrators. These include the quarterly City and Region, a scholarly publication dealing with municipal and urban problems; professional monographs; and collections of laws and ordinances on municipal matters. The Department offers various resources, such as training programs and kits, as well as conferences, seminars, and workshops to impart new ideas and brush up old ones about the running of local government (including national-level seminars on new ideas and approaches).

The Department helps local authorities and workers fund training programs and, in concert with the universities, is seeking to expand the two-year program in urban management, as well as preparing special curricula for different segments of the population and commissioning special studies on municipal issues. It tries to include lecturers from academia in the activities of the Centers for Development of Local Government and Local Administration and obtain credit toward an academic degree for external studies pursued by local government officials and employees.

The Centers for Development of Local Government and Local Administration were set up to provide comprehensive and intensive services to all local authorities and municipal organizations (more than 250 units, with 62,000 employees and officials); they are affiliated with the National Training Center (NTC), which is composed of Department workers. The NTC runs 13 regional centers throughout the country. This decentralization of the training network has increased awareness of the importance of training and motivation for excellence. The NTC coordinates the activities of the regional centers, supplies professional and study materials for training development, prepares a training kit on specific professional topics, and organizes teams of instructors and equips them with appropriate training aids. The regional centers work in coordination with the local authorities served by them, are involved in their various operations, and prepare and run training programs, as needed by the local authorities.

The Local Authority Organizational Development Department works to improve the effectiveness of the local authorities by designing tools and initiating processes of change; initiating and supervising local authorities' organizational development projects; processing and developing centers of excellence and promoting municipal issues that are among the Ministry's priorities. The Department looks for local authority units that are performing on a level that merits holding them up as models for emulation by other local authorities. It prepares training kits and develops these exemplary units as demonstration centers. The Department formulates professional models for the operation of local authority units and tailors modern and innovative approaches to the work of Israel's local authorities (e.g., the ``Contract City'' concept, the employment of contractors by local authorities, cooperation among local authorities, organization of the authority as an economic and community leadership).

The Local Authorities and Corporations Department deals with changes in the boundaries and structures of local authorities in order to distribute resources and assets more logically, and improves the level of services by integrating various levels of the population. It does this by merging and partitioning authorities, reducing areas of jurisdiction, and transferring areas from one jurisdiction to another in localities without municipal status; seeing to municipal attention to industrial areas; encouraging inter-municipal and inter-regional cooperation arrangements; inter-city associations and district councils; developing local government models through alternative statutory frameworks, preparing draft enabling legislation, and initiating processes for their implementation. The Department sees to the orderly operation of local authorities by amending the laws and regulations relating to the orderly and efficient management of elected local institutions. It encourages the work of local authority committees on matters linked to proper management; drafts legislation for compensation of local council members; works to expand the obligation to appoint internal auditors throughout the municipal system; appoints investigative commissions in malfunctioning authorities; formulates policy and rules for the operation of appointed committees; and encourages attention to economic issues in local authority activities (including the establishment of municipal corporations, planning units, and drafting the Municipal Corporations Law). It examines local authorities' requests for the Interior Minister's signature on contracts with council members or their relatives, exemptions from tenders, and the like; and prepares directives for simplifying, expediting, and streamlining procedures.

The Department is also developing a computerized database incorporating the local government map, officials, corporations, non-profit organizations, and the like, and another computerized database of tracts and plots by municipal jurisdiction; preparing local government for direct absorption of immigrants; drafting training programs and a directory of local authorities; running an information hotline; and preparing programs to involve the local authorities in the development of housing and employment.

STAFF UNITS: The Municipal Research Department helps local authorities and other agencies connected with the municipal system formulate policy and take decisions. The Department also develops ties with the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, universities, regional colleges, and research institutions to promote exchanges of information and examination of various research topics.

The Advisor for New Rural Settlements and Regional Council Affairs was appointed by the Minister in the light of two factors whose importance has increased in the past decade and which have a dominant influence on the community structure of rural settlements in Israel:

  1. the continuing crisis in agriculture and the declining importance of agricultural production vis-a-vis other economic sectors;
  2. the desire of grown-up children of rural settlement families who have not been designated as heirs of their parents' farmstead to obtain land and make their homes there.

The National Coordinator for the Arab Sector, working within the Local Government Administration, helps district-level minorities officers solve problems that arise in this sector, aids the Administration in drafting programs for developing Arab villages, and coordinates all operations by Administration units for this sector.

Planning Authority

The Planning Authority is involved at head-office level in national, regional, and town planning; draws up programs, planning guidelines, land-use designations, and engineering surveys, and conducts monitoring and coordination. Planning on the national, regional, and district levels is handled by district planning offices and local building committees. When major issues requiring large-scale coordination and adherence to physical planning principles arise, Authority representatives sit on interministry committees and coordinates among those responsible for implementation. The Planning Authority runs the National Planning and Building Council, the country's paramount planning institution, whose functions and competences are defined by the Planning and Building Law 5725-1965. The Council advises the Government on ground rules for the implementation of this law, sponsors and recommends national outline plans, authorizes changes in regional outline plans, and rules on objections to local outline plans and, under certain conditions, detailed plans as well. The Council also advises the Minister on the setting of planning and building standards and the demarcation of local planning districts.

The Planning Authority has four divisions: National and Regional Outline Plans; Local Outline Plans and Detailed Plans; Planning Guidelines; and Programs, Development Plans, and Information Gathering. The following units also operate within the division: Engineering and Infrastructure Survey; Settlement and Land-Use Designation Standards and Regulations Survey; the Secretariat of the National Planning and Building Council; the Agricultural Lands Conservation Commission; and the Coastal Water Commission. The Authority has six regional planning offices, corresponding to the country's administrative districts.

Population Administration The Population Administration deals with the personal, formal, and legal status of residents of Israel, in accordance with Government policy on citizenship, immigration, and entry to and exit from the country. It provides documentation and registration services and monitors movements and changes such as births, deaths, changes of address, entry to and exit from the country. It issues passports; conducts border checks; and manages the population registry, passport, and border check databases, which are a primary source of information for the Population Administration offices and, through them, for other government agencies.

Laws determining personal status and modalities for entering and leaving Israel include the Law of Return 5710-1950; the Entry to Israel Law 5712-1952; the Citizenship Law 5712-1952; the Passports Law 5712-1952; the Names Law 5716-1956; the Population Registry Law 5725-1965; the Possession and Presentation of Identity Cards Law 5743-1982; and the Emergency Regulations (Exit from the Country) 5708-1948.

The Administration operates through the Monitoring and Supervisory Department, which oversees the work of Administration offices; the Registry and Passports Department; the Visas and Aliens Department; the Citizenship Department; the Population Registry Department; the Border Checks Department; the Planning and Systems Analysis Unit; the Special Assignments Unit; and a telephone information center. There are 21 district Population Administration offices in Israel proper, 12 more in Judea-Samaria and the Gaza District, and one at Ben-Gurion Airport. The district offices also run eight branch offices and a number of registry stations.

The Registry and Passports Department deals with the planning, management, and supervision of operations and services relating to registry and passports, pursuant to the Population Registry Law, the Identity Card Law, the Names Law, and the Passports Law. It deals with exceptional requests concerning registry and passports and advises the regional offices on exceptional cases; deals with residents' statutory and other appeals against decisions made by the district offices; and initiates regulations, amendments to laws, and action to anchor directives and rules in binding regulations. The Department also has professional responsibility for registration of residents of Judea-Samaria and the Gaza District, and offers such special registry services as birth and death certificates for the years 1918-1956 and corrections to them. It maintains a registry of Israeli and foreign residents, administers the birth records of adopted persons and the death records of IDF casualties, and provides related services. It also registers births and deaths in Israel of residents of Judea-Samaria and the Gaza District.

The Visas and Aliens Department implements the Law of Return and the Entry into Israel Law, which regulate entry into and exit from Israel. It issues permits and residence permits and extends the validity of residence permits. It deals with appeals of decisions by the district offices; issues immigrant certificates; and deals with potential immigrants requesting certificates while they are visiting the country. It issues tourist visas and work permits to aliens and monitors their fulfillment of the conditions of the permit, including the requirement for a bank guarantee. Part of the Department's work is carried out through three interministry committees, which deal with aliens' applications for permanent residence permits; applications by non-Jews for permanent residence permits; and applications by Arabs in Judea-Samaria for permanent residence permits.

The Citizenship Department implements the Citizenship Law 5712-1952, which regulates the citizenship status of residents of Israel and the acquisition and renunciation of citizenship.

The Population Registry Department gathers registration details that cannot be obtained from the district offices (services given abroad, births, deaths, etc.); retrieves information from the Administration's records for other ministries, the IDF, and public institutions; and discovers erroneous or incomplete registration particulars and forwards them to the district offices for amendment.

The Border Checks Department maintains the border-crossing file, while records movement by Israelis and aliens through the country's border posts, including the exit of Israeli residents over the Jordan River bridges and through Rafiah. This system has been computerized since 1979, helping the Ministry and the Israel Police monitor entries and exits by aliens. It permits enforcement of regulations and laws related to exit and entry at the border stations and provides information services to government ministries and other bodies.

The Planning and Systems Analysis Unit maintains the Ministry's data-processing system; helps develop new software and improved EDP for the district offices' work; helps design new forms of documentation produced by the computer system; deals with communication lines that are down; and provides instruction to employees on EDP-related work procedures.

Emergency Services and Special Duties Administration

The Administration operates through the Fire Commissioner's Office; the Emergency Services and Special Duties Division; and the Evacuation, Assistance, and Casualties Authority (EACA), which operates under the aegis of the National Headquarters of the National Emergency Board (NEB), to coordinate emergency services with local authorities, in conjunction with Civil Defence (CD), which is under IDF jurisdiction. The Administration also licenses and supervises firearms, supervises bathing beaches and swimming pools, and coordinates the work of the Theater and Cinema Inspection Board and the Registrar of Nonprofit Organizations.

Firefighting: Fires cause great damage - on average, 15 people are killed by fire each year, and direct property damage reaches hundreds of millions of sheqels. Meeting this challenge are 19 intercity fire brigades and four municipal fire departments, operating under the Firefighting Services Law 5719-1959 and the Intercity Associations Law 5715-1955. The Ministry approves budgets, authorizes manpower levels, and provides professional guidance, supervision, and coordination. The fire commissioner and chief inspector maintain contact with the Standards Institute and rely on professional committees in matters of firefighting and fire safety.

Local fire departments provide all standard firefighting services, extricate those trapped in auto accidents, and implement the provisions of the Firefighting Services Law 5719-1959. They are autonomous with regard to station upkeep as well as equipment maintenance and procurement.

Regulations issued by the Minister set grades and authorize manpower levels, lay down hiring and employment conditions, shift work, the powers of the chief inspector and brigade commanders, the obligations of mutual assistance and cooperation among fire departments, govern the investigation of fires, and promulgate fire safety regulations (the firefighting equipment required in hospitals, hotels, schools, cinemas, factories, apartment houses, etc.). Safety and evacuation regulations have been issued pursuant to the Planning and Building Law.

Under the Civil Defence Law, in times of emergency the Firefighting Service supports the CD system and collaborates with relevant military authorities.

Emergency Services Division: The Ministry, in conjunction with the IDF, police, and NEB National Headquarters, assists local authorities in emergency and security matters. The Emergency Services Unit plans and equips local authorities to deal with NEB matters; builds warehouses and depots for NEB, EACA, and CD equipment; sets up NEB and CD command posts; funds and maintains security equipment in rural settlements (security fences, perimeter roads, public address systems, guard posts, security lighting, jeeps, etc.); builds and maintains armories in rural settlements; sets aside firing ranges; and secures water sources.

The Evacuation, Assistance, and Casualties Authority (EACA), which operates under the aegis of the National Headquarters of the National Emergency Board (NEB), sees to the needs of population groups likely to be injured in wartime. The Authority's wartime duties include finding housing for those evacuated during hostilities and attending to casualties. In peacetime, the EACA engages in the requisite planning and preparations. The EACA, established by Government decision, comprises representatives of the Labor and Social Affairs, Health, Police, Religious Affairs, and Finance ministries; Civil Defence; local authorities; the Jewish Agency; and various volunteer organizations. About 12,000 persons, most of them volunteers, are involved in EACA activities.

Supervision of Bathing Beaches: The Ministry's activity is anchored in the Regulation of Bathing Places Law 5724-1964 and in orders and regulations issued by the Minister pursuant to this law. The 135 official lifeguard stations on Mediterranean, Red Sea, and Sea of Galilee beaches provide services to the public, in addition to hundreds of public swimming pools. All lifeguards, about 1,000 in number, take refresher courses in first-aid before the start of the bathing season.

National Elections Commission

The Commission supervises and organizes elections for local authorities, regional councils, local committees in non-cooperative settlements, and agricultural committees; supervises Histadrut elections; and draws up voter registers. Each year the Commission sends notices to any voter whose particulars have changed since the last voter register was compiled.

Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs