Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit on Monday canceled a plan to consolidate 68 local councils and local authorities that has been strongly opposed by politicians and officials at the Union of Local Authorities in Israel. Sheetrit and his director-general, Aryeh Bar, met on Monday evening with the ULA's chairman Adi Eldar and director-general Ya'acov Agmon and heads of local councils to inform them of the decision. The Sheetrit initiative would have merged 68 local councils and local authorities into 27 to reduce expenses. Eldar praised Sheetrit's decision, saying that there could be no economic benefits to such a hasty plan. Among the municipalities that were slated to be merged were: Rehovot and Ness Ziona; Or Yehuda and Savyon; Ramat Gan and Givatayim; and Herzliya, Kfar Shmaryahu and Ramat Hasharon. Sheetrit said he was still certain the plan would have produced significant savings. "I am convinced that the proposed consolidations would have led to a real revolution in local government," he said. "Unfortunately, some biased people decided to put a spoke in the plan's wheel." Sources close to Sheetrit told The Jerusalem Post that Union of Local Authorities officials supported the initiative at first, but later came out against it, saying previous attempts to merge councils had not saved money as expected. Sheetrit said that despite the decision to scrap the plan, the Efrati Committee - which was created to examine the idea of consolidating local councils - would continue with its work. The committee, headed by former director-general of the Interior Ministry and the Israel Lands Administration Ya'acov Efrati, will forward its recommendations to the Interior Ministry.