Resolution #922 - What is the Israeli government resolution everyone is talking about and why isn’t the promise of 15 billion NIS to Arab towns enough?
Resolution #922 marks a historic and unprecedented moment in Israeli governmental decision-making, vowing to change the status quo of systematic budgetary discrimination of Arab citizens. The resolution aims to redistribute the national budget, increasing funds to Arab citizens by up to 15 billion NIS from 2016-2020, with vast potential to improve access to resources such as public transportation, industry and commerce, employment, housing, education, water and sewage. However, we know from previous smaller scale initiatives, that designated government funds for Arab Local Authorities are rarely distributed in full. According to the State Comptroller’s 2016 report - between 2010 and 2013 only 65% of promised funds were actually allocated to Arab towns and villages!
What is the reason for this devastating discrepancy?
One reason for the gap between projected and actual budget allocation derives from the complex bureaucratic processes necessary to apply for government funds. Arab mayors often have limited knowledge of funds available and lack understanding of the necessary processes to obtain them. In many cases, mayors need to complete numerous application forms demonstrating that they meet very specific criteria which are often impossible by definition due to the size, location or infrastructure of many Arab localities. Without a systematic intervention to organize Arab leadership and negotiate with the Israeli government, it is likely that many of the funds allocated in #922 will not reach Arab citizens.
What can we do to maximize #922 implementation?
Injaz has been working for several years in close collaboration with Arab mayors, senior government officials and the National Committee of Arab Mayors. Through intensive discussions and partnerships, we identified serious impediments to implementation of the government resolution. The Israeli government has recognized some of these limitations and certain government ministries are hiring consultants to assist with appropriate allocation of funding to ALAs. Unfortunately this solution is limited in scope - only few “excelling” ALAs have been selected for this assistance; each government ministry is operating independently without coordination between the diverse consultants; and the consultants operate in a “top-down” manner - mostly hired by the government on short term contracts to assist ALAs in applications and management of funds. This “solution” does not build capacity within ALAs to understand government processes, apply for funding and manage use of funds in the future. In addition each consultant focuses on the needs of the ALA regarding, for example, housing, education or industry, depending on the ministry s/he represents, without looking at the broad bigger picture of the ALA’s overall priorities.
What is Injaz’ critical role in implementing Resolution #922?
Injaz together with ALA mayors and municipal officials have identified that the highest priority ALA need for full and effective implementation of Resolution #922 is intensive capacity building training within ALAs, provided by an appointed “integrator”. This is similar to the role Injaz has been playing thus far in Local Authorities, but is upgraded to a more comprehensive, in-house position. The integrator’s role is to work closely with the mayor, the municipal director, municipal engineers and department heads to assess municipal assets and needs; coordinate between departments, facilitate conflicts of interest and lead a process of needs prioritization; provide information about all appropriate available funding from #922; assist in application and negotiations for funding; and create synchronized work plans between municipal departments taking into account all of the data. The integrator becomes part of the ALA team and will train municipal officials with the tools to use these systems of organizational assessment and planning in the future.
Other organizations have also recognized the need for intensive work with ALAs to assist with economic development, for example the government sponsored “Atidim Cadets” program. Injaz works in ongoing close collaboration with ALA leadership, government ministries and other civil society organizations, continually assessing ALA needs and working with ALAs to hone our best practices. Injaz trained integrators meet a critical need, supplying a comprehensive, coordinated, high level management role, while empowering ALA leadership to become self sufficient in the long term. Working in ALAs for an extended period, Injaz continues to develop organizational infrastructure and a professional team within the municipality. This project is based on best practices developed internationally, using methodologies such as the OECD “Model for Excellence and Innovative development in Arab towns”.
Other related Injaz projects:
Injaz has been working with Arab mayors to develop capacity to access #922 funds and to hone and apply the mediation skills to negotiate with Israeli government ministers.