Local Government Project

Project in the Civil Service Reform Program

A strong and efficient local government is one of the building blocks of a democratic society, increases the effectiveness of the system and bolsters the checks and balances between the various levels of government.

In recent years there has been growing debate over the status of local governments in Israel. In the wake of the Covid crisis, in which local governments played a pivotal role and the increasing instability of the central government, there is increasing public demand for further decentralization and empowerment of local authorities in Israel.

The local government project is part of IDI’s Civil Service Reform Program, and deals with an extensive array of issues relating to local governments in Israel. The project constructs a framework with which it studies the nature, status, and authorities of local governments, and works to strengthen its effectiveness. Research and metrics show that Israel is one of the most centralized countries in the Western world. Therefore, the project focuses on decentralization and the distribution of powers to local authorities. The project also deals with consolidation of internal monitoring mechanisms within local governments, including members of local councils and democratic gatekeepers.

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    Dr. Ariel Finkelstein

    Head of Project

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    Dr. Ariel Finkelstein holds s bachelor's degree from the Integrated Program for Philosophy, Economics and Political Science at Hebrew University, and a Master's degree in Public Policy, with a specialization in local government administration and management from Haifa University, as part of the Ministry of Local Government's "Cadets for Local Government" program.

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    Ayala Goldberg

    Research Assistant

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    Research assistant in the Religion and State program at the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for Shared Society, and a local governance project within the Public Service Reform program. Holds a Bachelor's degree in the PPE program from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Currently a Master's student in government and public policy at the Open University.


On February 27, 2024, elections were held in 242 localities throughout Israel. The following analysis reviews the results of the elections from a number of angles.

Arab-Israeli public officials are being increasingly targeted by criminals, hoping to get their way through threats, extortion and force ahead of Tuesday's local elections. Running for office shouldn't cost people their lives.

The local elections this week in Israel—taking place at a time of war—have many Israelis asking, perhaps louder than usual, is it actually important to vote in these elections? The answer to this question is a resounding yes.

How are elections in ultra-Orthodox municipalities different from those in non-orthodox local authorities? Are they comparable to the Arab community? A survey an analysis of the political structure of Haredi local authorities. 

From a historical perspective, the proportion of female heads of local authorities in Israel has been extremely low—essentially negligible throughout most decades. How does women’s representation in local authorities during the first two decades of the 21st century compare?

In a few weeks elections will be held in local authorities across Israel. While they were originally scheduled for October 31st, 2023, they were postponed due to the outbreak of war. Elections during wartime raise a slew of challenges that are exceptional to the circumstances. Find out everything you need to know about wartime local elections in Israel.

When Israeli liberals depend solely on the Supreme Court for checks and balances, they are taking a big risk. It is essential to add veto points as human rights in Israel should not depend on the Supreme Court alone - decentralization of government is key. 

For local government to be able to truly represent all residents and understand the diversity of their different needs, it is important that there be appropriate representation of men and women alike

The OECD recommends granting local authorities’ greater autonomy in setting local taxation. The program being pursued by the current government raises fears of central government taking control of the Arnona (municipal tax) Fund, as has happened in the past.

There has been much talk and little action about the need to delegate powers to the local authorities. Now is the time for actual be movement on the ground.

The pandemic has brought to the fore what was already clear - the public's trust in Israel’s local government is much higher than in the central government. It is high time more authority to be transferred to the care of local leaders.