The Union of Local Authorities in Israel (ULAI) was established in 1938, ten years before the establishment of the State of Israel. It is the roof organization of 265 Israeli local authorities. As such, it encompasses activities which serve mayors, director generals and senior managers in all Israeli municipalities throughout the country, including Arab, Jewish, Druze and Bedouin cities and towns. Thus, while it is a non-governmental organization (NGO), it enjoys an established and nation-wide acclaim.
ULAI’s main role is to safeguard the shared interests of all Israeli local authorities and to represent them vis-a-vis the central government and its ministries, the Knesset (Parliament), the Jewish Agency, the Histadrut (General Federation of Trade Unions), as well as other institutions and municipal public organizations.
Furthermore, ULAI advises the local authorities regarding an entire range of municipal matters including education, welfare, economy, water, security, status of women, labor relations, legal matters, etc.
ULAI’s International Affairs’ division maintains fruitful and ongoing contacts with international municipal organizations, academic bodies, specific communities and/or cities, and more. It is a full member of the United Cities and Local Governments organization (UCLG), the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and enjoys observer status in the Congress of Europe. As of last year (2013), it has also placed vast emphasis upon enhancing its ties with cities, towns and municipalities in the USA and has established ties with the US State Department, Sister City International (SCI), United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), National League of Cities (NLC) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).
Furthermore, the division works with the full myriad of Israeli government ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Tourism, and others. It’s main motto is to forward operative initiatives between cities and towns in Israel and entities from abroad, while promoting mutually-beneficial outcomes for all sides involved. It’s goal is to enrich our cities’ knowledge in different fields of expertise and to “export” Israeli municipal best practices to our friends and partners abroad; to forge economic, cultural and touristic ties with different international partners; to forward cross-border initiatives with regional partners for the benefit of people on both sides, despite given complexities; to bring about people-to-people initiatives and understanding via municipal cooperation and to serve as a point of contact for international organizations, which find interest in municipal entities in Israel.