Services provided by local government include education, culture, health, social welfare, road maintenance, public parks, water and sanitation. Each local authority functions through bylaws, complementing national laws, which have been approved by the Ministry of the Interior. Some authorities operate special courts in which transgressors of local bylaws are tried. Financing for local authorities comes from local taxes as well as allocations from the state budget. Every authority has a comptroller who prepares an annual report.
The law recognizes three types of local authorities: municipalities which provide the framework for urban centers with populations of over 20,000; local councils which manage towns with populations of between 2,000 and 20,000; and regional councils which are responsible for several villages grouped within a certain radius. Each local authority is administered by a mayor or chairperson and a council. The number of council members is determined by the Ministry of the Interior, according to the authority's population. Currently there are 57 municipalities, 145 local councils and 55 regional councils.
All municipalities and local councils are united, on a voluntary basis, in a central body, the Union of Local Authorities, which represents them before the government, monitors relevant legislation in the Knesset and provides guidance on issues such as work agreements and legal affairs. Affiliated with the International Association of Municipalities, the Union maintains ties with like organizations throughout the world, arranges twin cities programs and exchanges of international delegations.
Elections for local government are conducted by secret ballot every five years. All permanent residents, whether Israeli citizens or not, whose names appear on the voter registry of a particular authority are eligible to vote in local elections from age 18 and to be elected from age 21. In elections for municipal and local councils, ballots are cast for a party list of candidates, with the number of council seats attained by each list proportional to the percentage of votes received. Mayors and chairpersons of local councils are elected directly.
In regional council elections, one candidate in each village is elected by simple plurality, with those elected becoming members of the council. Heads of regional councils are selected from among the regional council's members.
Local elections are financed by government appropriations, on the basis of the number of mandates that each faction or list wins in the local authority.
For further information:
Union of Local Authorities in Israel
Heftman 3, Tel Aviv 61200
Fax: 97236967447, Tel: 97236919241