Arab mayors in Israel demand cancellation of government decision usurping their power to manage tenders for service provision in their towns

Under the new five-year economic plan to reduce gaps in Arab society and “pressures exerted by criminal entities on local authorities”, the government took over the management of tenders. Position paper issued by The Arab Mayors Committee, Injaz Center and Adalah: Stripping Arab localities of their independence creates two separate systems of local government on the basis of national affiliation.

On 20 January 2022, The National Committee of the Heads of Arab Localities (“The Arab Mayors Committee”), The Injaz Center and Adalah - The Legal Center for the Rights of the Arab Minority in Israel sent a position paper to the Prime Minister, the Attorney General (AG), the Interior Minister, and the Minister of Public Security demanding that Article 25 of Government Resolution 550 be immediately repealed.

 

The Israeli government passed Resolution 550 - "The economic plan to reduce gaps in the Arab community by 2026" on 24 October 2021. Provision 25 of the Resolution stipulates that the provision of budgetary assistance to the Arab localities will be carried out "while giving priority to implementation by the government ministry or another body to be elected by it."

 

CLICK HERE to read Adalah's letter [Hebrew]

 

CLICK HERE to read Adalah's position paper [Hebrew]

 

In the position paper, the groups detailed how the decision to usurp the management of the budgets from the elected, Arab local authorities would result in severe damage to their functioning. They further argued that this decision violates the status, independence, freedom of choice, and discretion of Arab local authorities in a manner contrary to laws governing their functioning and, as a result, also violates Arab voters' right to elect and be represented by the leaders of their choice in the local authority. According to the localities’ heads, the transfer of the power to manage tenders to a government ministry or another external body will impair the efficiency and utilization of resources. Moreover, having local authorities` tenders managed by governmental bodies will lower the possibility of local Arab businesses winning the tenders, and thus, is likely to damage the strength of the entire locality, contrary to the very purpose of the Resolution.

 

The groups emphasize that taking this power from the Arab localities, which is based on the national affiliation of their residents, essentially creates two different local authority systems – one for Israeli Jewish towns and another for Arab towns – with divergent powers and discretion. Furthermore, the government has failed to provide any data to substantiate its claim that criminal entities are taking over the tenders of the Arab local authorities. The implementation of this decision, without any distinction between the 85 authorities that will be affected by it, is also a completely disproportionate response.

 

 

Photograph: Muataz1996 (CC BY-SA 3.0)