Interior Minister Eli Yishai ordered the dissolution of the Hadera city council yesterday after it failed to pass a budget by the state-imposed deadline.
By law, municipalities and local councils must approve a budget no later than three months after the Knesset approves the state budget. Despite the numerous extensions, members were unable to come to an agreement on a budget.
Hadera mayor Haim Avitan is expected to be summoned to appear before Yishai in the coming days. In the interim, he will continue running the city with a four-person panel of Interior Ministry officials.
The final deadline for submitting the municipal budget was the end of June. The budget was brought before the Hadera city council on May 12, but the four members of the opposition issued 22 reservations to the law. Hedva Yehezkeli of the Green Party said she objected because the council did not heed her request to increase allocations for youth movements and child care.
According to Yehezkeli, after council members decided to hold a roll call to decide on each of the reservations, the mayor abruptly proceeded to hold a viva voce vote by a show of hands. He then quickly adjourned the meeting.
Due to the mayor's actions, the budget was determined to be illegitimately approved and another council meeting was scheduled for the next month. Yehezkeli and another city council member, Ohad Merhav, obtained an injunction against the meeting due to what they called a technical failure in inviting the other council members.
The court then scheduled a council meeting for a date that fell after the deadline for submitting the budget. Two weeks later, the council convened to discuss the budget, and promptly voted it down. The mayor was abroad and did not attend the meeting.
On July 21, Avitan returned to Israel and quickly convened the council for a vote, which was boycotted by members of the opposition. The council approved the budget.
Since the budget was passed after the deadline, it needed Yishai's approval. Yishai accepted the mayor's argument that the delay was caused by the court-issued injunction. But Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein overruled the minister, citing the fact that the city council had already convened and rejected the budget.
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