Local Authorities Launch Strike, Shutting Down Pre-schools, High Schools Across Israel

Federation of Local Authorities protests budget cuts and demands 'Dimona should be equal to Amona.'

Moti Milrod

The Union of Local Authorities, representing towns and municipalities across Israel, announced on Tuesday night they would launch an open-ended strike on Wednesday in protest of state funding cuts.

The strike, set to begin at 6 A.M., would shut public kindergartens, high schools as teachers’ aides and other public employees would be absent.

School aides are commonly employed by local authorities, in contrast to teachers.

Security guards, secretaries and janitors will also go on strike, and no transportation would be provided for pupils living far from school, except for special needs children attending separate schools. Elementary schools will also see severe disruptions, in the absence of security guards.

In some locations, schools will be prohibited from opening under strike conditions.

Heads of local authorities are threatening to cease providing services including garbage removal, security and welfare services.

The Federation is protesting cuts of 230 million shekels ($59.8 million) to development budgets that provide for construction and infrastructure, and for balancing local budgets. The federation demands that the government guarantee to pay the full budgeted amount for 2017 and 2018.

Haim Bibas, head of the union and mayor of Modi’in, said: “Dimona should be equal to Amona. We won’t allow dramatic cuts in funds designated for local authorities and their residents. Every year the government asks us to provide additional services while cutting our funding.”

He said cuts will severely impact 190 weaker local authorities on the country’s social and geographic periphery, putting them at risk of collapse.

The Treasury said that “in the 2017-2018 budget there are significant increments for local authorities, including a fund for closing gaps in local authorities, amounting to half a billion shekels, as well as funds aimed at strengthening Arab local authorities.”