Court Orders Kiryat Shmona's Embattled Library and Cultural Center Reopened

The government decided to cover the debts of the center, but its reopening was delayed by disagreements over responsibilities.

The Nazareth District Court ordered the reopening of the Kiryat Shmona library and culture center yesterday, following a several week-long dispute that left the units closed to residents.

The city's community center, which contained the two institutions, was shut down and put into receivership earlier this year, but three weeks ago the government decided to cover the debts of the center. The reopening was delayed, however, by disagreements on the responsibilities of the receiver.

kiryat shmona - Yaron Kaminsky - July 20 2011
Yaron Kaminsky

Yesterday, Judge Hashim Khatib ruled the receiver had the authority to administer the center and decide on employment policy.

The disagreement revolved around the receiver, Udi Raz, and the Kiryat Shmona municipality. Raz was appointed by the District Court, and the municipality feared he might intervene with the work of the center's operational director, Ami Segev. Segev went to Kiryat Shmona to run the center as a volunteer.

In particular, the parties disagreed on appointing separate directors for the cultural center and the library, appointments supported by the municipality but opposed by Raz.

Raz told the court yesterday that "government support isn't automatic and needs to stand up to tests," noting that the municipality has failed in the administering the centers before.

He said some of the reasons for the failure included massive intake of new employees, including some political appointments.

City hall claims it agreed the receiver would only have authority in overseeing the budget, while Segev said it's impossible to run an organization with two heads. The dispute caused the municipality to withhold donated funds necessary for the reopening of the library and cultural center.

Khatib ruled that Raz will be empowered to hire new employees, but that it would be appropriate for him to consult Segev beforehand. The court will decide on any disputed cases, he said.

Khatib told the municipality it is now expected to honor its commitment to submit the budget that would allow the center to begin operations.