Meeting between local authorities, Steinitz ends

Both sides agree on establishment of team to look into water prices; finance ministry says it will examine budget grants proposal.

municipality protest 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
municipality protest 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The meeting held between Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, and the heads of local authorities on Friday ended with both sides agreeing on the establishment of a team to look into water corporations and the price of water in Israel within a period of three months.
In addition, the Finance Ministry said it will examine over the weekend the proposal of Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai on the issue of budget grants for 2011-2012.
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The meeting between the heads of local councils and Finance Minister representatives began Friday after an initial flare-up between the sides threatened to stop negotiations.
The Union of Local Authorities announced that the blow-up happened after representatives from the finance minister's office only let in three of the 10 representatives sent by the union.
As he left the finance minister's office, the representative of the union's negotiating team, Yossi Nishli said: "The Finance Minister cannot determine who can attend the meeting, he is not the head of the Union of Local Authorities," reported Army Radio.
Following the incident, the local council heads as well as the director-general of the union, Shlomo Buhbut and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, decided to leave the finance minister's office immediately.
The local authority heads announced that, as of now, a general strike will be held on Sunday in all the local authorities except in Haifa and Jerusalem, and will continue until further notice.
Earlier Friday, Buhbut told Israel Radio that the strike expected to begin Sunday will be stopped only if Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz sets out, among other things, to decrease water prices and increase by NIS 500 million the budget for schools and by NIS 600m. the budget for local authorities.
According to Buhbut, the strike will be held by all union employees, including employees in schools, kindergartens, and garbage collection and gardening services.