The Federation of Local Authorities in Israel is a non-governmental body which incorporates all municipalities and local councils in Israel. The Federation was established in 1938, a decade before the State of Israel was established, under the name “Commonwealth of Local Authorities”. It was officially registered as an Ottoman association, and was recognized by the Mandate government as a body which represents the local Hebrew authorities in the land.
The three largest cities of Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and Haifa, joined the “Commonwealth” in 1953 and then the organization was given the new name “Federation of Local Authorities”. The regional councils did not join the organization, and established a separate organization called the “Federation of Regional Councils in Israel”. Today all 203 municipal local authorities in Israel are members of the Federation: 75 cities and 128 additional local councils.
The main role of the Federation of Local Authorities is to represent the local authorities and to promote their interests in Knesset [Israeli Parliament] and the various government authorities, as well as national institutions and organizations. For this purpose, the Federation is intensively active within the different parliamentary committees and vis-à-vis the relevant government ministries; while focusing on the legislative sphere in an attempt to regulate the responsibilities and authority of the local authorities, and the resources the government needs to allocate to it in basic law. In addition, the Federation of Local Authorities constitutes a professional advisory to the local authorities in their different fields of activity.
The Federation of Local Authorities is registered under the Associations Law as a non-profit association. The operation of the Federation is funded by membership fees paid by the local authorities, by income from training and supervising activities, from the income of its subsidiary – the Local Government Economic Services Ltd. – and from the support of Mifal Hapayis [the national lottery of Israel], which is owned by the local authorities.
The local member authorities are diverse; large and small, established and disadvantaged, Jewish, Arab, Druse and Circassian, religious and secular, and include cities in central Israel and development towns in the periphery. Sometimes the authorities have conflicting interests on different issues on the agenda, but the Federation of Local Authorities has been insisting along the years to maintain its unity, understanding the importance of solidarity among the different populations in the State of Israel.
An elected chairman holds the position of the head of the Federation of Local Authorities. The elections are held once every five years; each mayor casts his vote for an individual candidate. Elections are held about two months after the elections for the local authorities. At present, the Chairman of the Federation of Local Authorities is the mayor of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut, Mr. Haim Bibas, who was elected in January 2014. All mayors of cities and local authorities comprise the general meeting of the Federation of Local Authorities, which is headed by the Mayor of Migdal HaEmek, Mr. Eli Barda.