Israel's Municipalities End General Strike, Sign Deal With Netanyahu's Office

Local Authority chairman Shlomo Buhbut and director general of prime minister's office Harel Locker sign agreement to end two-day strike.

Israel's local authorities ended the general strike on Tuesday after an agreement was signed between the director general of the prime minister's office, attorney Harel Locker, and Union of Local Authority chairman Shlomo Buhbut. The details of the agreement have not yet been made public.

On Monday, the local authorities launched an open-ended general strike over several government decisions that local leaders say will reduce the income of their towns and cities by some NIS 2 billion. However, by Tuesday, several municipalities returned to work.

Shlomo Buhbut Benjamin Netanyahu - Moshe Milner / GPO - 16012012
Moshe Milner / GPO

On Monday evening, The Union of Local Authorities reached an agreement with Interior Minister Eli Yishai that sought to freeze cuts in property tax, but close to midnight, the Prime Minister's Office rejected the agreement.

As part of the strike, local authorities did not collect garbage and municipal offices were closed to the public. Teachers' assistants at public preschools and kindergartens were among the municipal employees on strike.

The proposed agreement signed with Yishai on Monday would suspend virtually the entire property tax (arnona ) reform plan that Yishai unveiled about three weeks ago. The compromise would provide for a joint task force to examine the economic impact of changes to tax rates.

In addition, related private members' bills pending in the Knesset, including one that would exempt rehabilitation and occupational centers from paying property taxes, will be stopped. Municipal water rates would also be reexamined.