municipality protest 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Hours before a nationwide local authorities strike was set to paralyze the country, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Finance Ministesr Yuval Steinitz and Interior Minister Eli Yishai succeeded in negotiating a deal with the heads of local authorities early Sunday morning.
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Netanyahu summoned Steinitz,
Yishai and the heads of local authorities to a late-night meeting Saturday night, which lasted nearly five hours. The government agreed to grant the local authorities with NIS 2.75 million in 2011, and an NIS 2.8 million in 2012. In addition, a committee will provide recommendations within 45 days on how to coordinate between water companies and local authorities.
The meeting followed calls by Yishai and Minister of
Welfare and Social Services Isaac Herzog to try to bridge gaps between the
parties before employees of local authorities launched an open-ended strike on
Sunday if a deal was not reached between the workers’ union and the
The Union of Local Authorities had demanded a reduction in water prices and a budget increase of NIS 500 million
for schools and NIS 600m. for local authorities. These funds have been cut from
the national budget in recent years, and the union says the budget shortfalls
have made it exceedingly difficult to carry out their operations.
moment, there are 22 local authorities in Israel that the union says are having
serious problems with workers’ salaries.
Had the strike gone through,
the city halls of all participating cities would be closed and resident help
lines will not be manned. Sanitation services will not operate.
welfare services would not have been available and centers for senior citizens would have been
closed. In addition, parking inspectors wouldn't have given out tickets, .
Herzog had called
on Netanyahu and Steinitz to make every effort to prevent the potential
“A culture exists in Israel that ignores the threat of a strike
right up until the last minute, and this is a mistake,” said Herzog in a
statement. “I know the local authorities cannot afford to pay their share of the
social services, and this is a complex problem affecting not only the poorer
population but also middle-class communities.
“The budget that passed
last week allows the government to respond to the distress call of the local
government,” Herzog added. “The prime minister and finance minister must
therefore come to their senses quickly and find a solution that will avert this
crisis.”Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.