Advancing Opportunities for Arab Municipal Leaders to Share Interests and Influence Government Policies
An Update from the Injaz Center for Professional Arab Local Governance
The overall objective of the Glazer-funded project remains to further advance Arab municipalities’ (ALAs’) capacities by convening professional committees of the National Council of Arab Mayors (NCAM), comprised of municipal officials and other stakeholders, in order to share common challenges and opportunities and to formulate government policy recommendations that are responsive to these challenges and opportunities.
Injaz will retain its responsibility for leading these efforts through work with four NCAM committees:
- The Education Committee
- The Environment Committee
- The Small Businesses, Entrepreneurship, and Platforms for Economic Development Committee
- The Arab Local Authorities Committee
- The Fire-fighting and Rescue Committee
Since the last update the work of the committees has been focused on:
- The lessons learned from the challenges and successes of the five-year Resolution 922 government plan
- Providing constructive, informed input through the NCAM to key government ministries as the government formulates its next five-year plan through the preparation of a series of policy papers and extensive meetings
Regarding the second point, considerable effort has been placing pressure to impress upon the government that the next plan must incorporate on-the-ground lessons learned, and not employ the “top-down” administration in play during the implementation of Resolution 922. The disconnect between the reality of Arab municipalities’ capacities to implement Resolution 922 and the government’s ambitions for its implementation is thought to lie at the heart of many of the challenges that were encountered during Resolution 922’s implementation.
In recent months, the NCAM and its committees have worked tirelessly in channeling these real-world lessons to the government planners as they formulate priorities, establish benchmarks, and allocate designated funds. The primary method that has been used to convey this information from the NCAM to government ministries has been through the preparation of a series of policy papers which articulate data analysis and resulting recommendations.
The following is a brief summary of primary objectives and activities that have taken since our last report in April 2021:
THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE
The objectives of the committee have been principally two:
- Providing professional recommendations in the field of informal youth education that address the needs of the Arab community in the next five-year government plan.
- Providing professional recommendations pertaining to formal youth education with an emphasis on content enhancement, increased budgetary allocations, school security, establishing new classrooms, and tapping into unused funds.
The committee is comprised of a range of stakeholders in the area of education in Arab municipalities, including senior municipal officials, directors of municipal education departments, directors of municipal youth departments, academics, and others. Members of the committee meet at least once a month and routinely extend invitations to senior officials from the Ministry of Education whose work focusses on both informal and formal education.
Since the update sent in April, the committee has engaged in the following activities:
- Cooperation with the Forum of Youth Departments Directors.
In collaboration with Injaz members of the forum convened in May 2021, they have been working extensively on the development of the policy paper titled “Formal and Informal Education That Meets the Special Needs of the Arab Community in Israel ”. which is part of a serious of policy papers that were submitted to the government as part of the preparations to Government Resolution GR 550.
2- The development of the policy paper policy paper titled “The Education in the Arab Community from Crisis to Growth: Vision, Strategy and the Development of Arab Education”.
3-Following the submission of the policy paper to the ministry of education they adjusted the call for proposal based on the policy paper recommendations then they published the calls.
4- The Committee continues to work with the Forum of Youth Departments Managers to follow up on the project implantation and the utilization of budgets.
5- We established a forum where organizations and associations working with youth, with the aim to familiarize them with GR550 and opportunities related to youth and informal education.
The following recommendations of the policy papers were adopted in full to the Government Resolution GR550.
- Establishment of a consulting committee on the strategic process for construction of an educational program.
- Maintaining the identity and heritage of Arab society and preparing Arab students for incorporation in Israeli society
- Informal education challenge program to include Arab students in mixed cities: Tel Aviv-Yafo, Haifa, Ramla, Lod and Akko.
- The budget of the informal education challenge program aimed at local authorities to be maintained at 70 million shekels
- The Adjustment of the ministry calls for proposals to meet the special needs of the Arab community in Israel.
- Giving the local authority broader options to choose the project through the limiting the Green Track options.
- Enhance the relationship and the communication between the local authorities and the schools’ principles to improve the project in a way they meet the needs of the Arab community in Israel.
However, the following recommendations of the resolution that are still under discussions.
Cancelling the Green Track in informal education Challenges program (a track which requires local authorities to select courses and programs from the track”.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Education we expanded of the Committee to include nine task forces, focusing the following key areas:
- Informal education
- Curriculum development
- Facilities and infrastructure
- Technological education
- Early childhood education
- Knowledge and skill achievement
- Preparation for higher education
- Eradication of violence
- Quality of teaching staff
Meetings with ministries officials
Each of the task forces met regularly in the past several months and formulated recommendations relevant to its area of focus to be addressed in the new government plan, they carried out several meetings with government officials. It is important to note that a key meeting was held with the Director General of the Ministry of Education and members of the Education Committee on October 4, 2021.
THE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE
The objectives of the committee include:
- Support ALAs in utilizing the finds allocated to carry our environmental programs and projects
- Mapp out the environmental challenges and pressing issues identified across ALAs
- Articulating the environmental issues, projects, and programs that it is concerning the Arab Community in Israel
- Support Local Araba authorities in addressing the environmental issues in the Arab community.
Since the update sent in April, the committee has engaged in the following principal activities:
the development of the policy paper titled “Promotion of the Quality of the Environment in Arab Local Authorities” which was a key reference in the discussions between representatives of the committee and representatives of the Economic Development Authority and other government ministries.
The following recommendations were adopted to GR550 in full:
1-Allocation of budget for projects for renewable energy production in Arab local authorities.
2-Allocation of budget for energy efficiency projects in Arab local authorities and the territories of Arab communities.
3-Allocation of budget for installing electric vehicle charging stations in Arab communities.
4- Appointment of energy managers and publicity campaigns, education, and training to raise awareness on renewable energy.
5- Fostering local leadership and grass-roots consciousness raising.
6- Increased supervision and enforcement of environmental issues in Arab communities.
7- Significant investment in infrastructure in the Arab sector aimed at increasing the number of households connected to the sewage system.
8- Allocation for budget for establishing and empowering urban improvement divisions in Arab local authorities.
9- Allocation of budget for preparing master plans for handling climate change in Arab authorities based on a vulnerability survey; budget for the plans.
10- Preparing a strategic plan for waste disposal for each local authority, with guidance from an operational consultant.
11- Implementation of a survey of the effects on the environment in Arab communities adjacent to quarries and allocation of budget for setting up air monitoring stations in these communities.
Seminar for ALA officials and other stakeholders
On November 10, 2021 a seminar focusing on environmental issues entitled “Sustainability in Arab Local Authorities” was held and was attended by municipal officials, including mayors, directors of ALA environmental units, and an array of environmental professionals, NGOs, and other stakeholders.
“Improving the Face of the City” model department”
towards building a professional and organizational structure we evaluated existing SHIF’A departments in the Arab local authorities and identified the challenges, weaknesses, and the strengths in order to develop an effective and efficient model. So far, we identified 5 localities that have the potential to adopt the model. the localities are Ein Mahel, Kabul, Basmat Taboun and Kfar Yasef and Mizeaa.
– In collaboration with Heschel Center, and Deloitte and the National Committee for Arab Mayors (NCAM) we are following up the implantation of new renewable energy and sustainability project in the Arab local authorities.
THE SMALL BUSINESSES, ENTREPRENEURSHIP, AND PLATFORMS FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
The objectives of the committee include
- Mapping and analyzing the challenges confronted in the implementation of Resolution 922’s mandates that focus on municipal economic development
- Articulating recommendations for advancing economic development in ALAs based on this data, focusing particularly on the business community and the relationship between the business community and ALAs
- Enhancing ALAs’ revenue streams and total revenue generation in response to historic and emerging economic challenges and opportunities (such as the Coronavirus pandemic and its many residual economic impacts, many of which have been extremely negative)
- Articulating and presenting recommendations relevant to economic development to be considered in GR550
The committee’s work to date has been extensive and has included projects on a number of fronts, including municipal infrastructures that support economic development, the small business environments in ALAs (Injaz is developing a model based on the extensive pilot study conducted in the ALAs Um al-Fahm and Rahat), economic development corporations (EDCs) as a platform for improving municipal service delivery and generating municipal income, and attracting and retaining entrepreneurs, and encouraging entrepreneurship, in ALAs.
Additionally, this committee has had an ongoing relationship with the emergency task force “situation room” established at the outset of the Coronavirus pandemic and continues to engage in ongoing analyses of the economic (and other) impacts of the pandemic, some of which are expected to linger for many years.
The committee has engaged in the following principal activities
The committee caried out the following activates:
– Creation of a policy paper the Advancing Business Development, Entrepreneurship, and Organizational Infrastructures for the Promotion of Economic Development”.
The committee worked to formulate a policy paper articulating the many small business, entrepreneurship, and platforms/infrastructures for economic development challenges and opportunities that pertain to ALAs, as well as to make suggestions for addressing them through government policies and budget allocations.
– The policy paper served as the foundation for talks between members of the committee, the larger NCAM, and representatives of key government ministries, particularly the Ministries of Finance, Economy, and Social Equality. During the past three months several meetings have taken place with representatives of the Ministry of Economy, and in a meeting that took place on October 17, 2021 it was agreed that specialized task forces will be established to further develop policy recommendations, with Injaz, the NCAM, and Sikkuy representing a joint effort in the work of these task forces with ministry officials.
The following recommendations were adopted in full in GR550
1- Increase the operating budget of authorities in the program
2- Enhancing human capital within Arab local authorities
3- Changes in the calculation of the levelling up grant
4- Changes to the release mechanism of the conditional component
5- Improving the quality of services and standard of living for residents of the authorities in the program
Committees and bodies to be set up:
- Team to investigate changes to the levelling up grant
- Directors General of the Interior Ministry and Finance Ministry
- Joint budget allocation team to increase the current budget of local authorities in the program
–The establishment of the new department called “The economic Development and Strategic Department
That is oriented to support small and medium businesses in ALAs. This new managerial function would monitor and follow up on infrastructures necessary for small and medium business development and prosperity, and conduct projects that can increase the tax base of the authorities and contribute significantly to their revenues, the first department was opened in Jaljulia as part of a pilot project.
Seminars and study days
On June 29, 2021, we carried out a study day in which representatives of local authorities running Economic Companies ECs reflected on their experience and shared their challenges, while a representative of the Ministry of Interior provided a comprehensive explanation about the requirement and conditions required to establish an EC.
Creation of policy papers in collaboration with Sikkuy
Injaz, in collaboration with Sikkuy-Aufoq, released a joint policy paper titled ‘Proposal for Redistribution of the Funds for Reducing the Gaps’ which examined funding distribution mechanisms against the official goal key funding streams which aim to reduce disparities between authorities. The paper also included a proposal to adjust and update funding distribution mechanisms and criteria among the local authorities to reflect the principle of distributive justice. The policy paper was presented to the relevant ministries including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy and Industry, and the Ministry of Social Justice. Some of the policy papers' recommendations were applied in the framework of Government Resolution 550.
In February 24th 2022, we will present "Sources of Income of Arab Local Authorities", a study conducted in in collaboration with Sikkuy-Aufoq.
THE ARAB LOCAL AUTHORITIES COMMITTEEE
Local Authorities” Committee focuses primarily on enhancing ALAs’ economic resourcefulness and resilience. The objectives of the committee include:
- Articulating the varying challenges confronted by ALAs in maximizing economic resourcefulness and demonstrating economic resilience in the face of challenges, both historic and emerging (for example the Coronavirus pandemic)
- Articulating and presenting recommendations relevant to economic resourcefulness and resilience relevant to Resolution 292
- Encouraging ALAs to take advantage of and leverage current government plans and budgets supporting the committee’s overarching goals
The committee’s work to date has been extensive and has included projects on a number of fronts, including addressing the government’s formula for determining municipal allocations for “closing the gaps” grants. These grants disburse approximately 500 million NIS per year to municipalities whose operations suffer from economic shortfalls.
In collaboration with Sikkuy, a policy paper presents data that indicates that the formula used for these grants disproportionally and unjustifiably discriminates against Arab local authorities. Also, in collaboration with Sikkuy, the committee conducted comprehensive research on Arab local authorities’ budgetary revenue streams, including income from residential and business property taxes, property taxes from industrial zones, so-called government “balancing” grants, and grants to reduce municipal economic gaps. This research and the attendant recommendations also include analyses of the economic impact of the pandemic.
Creation of a policy paper on the subject of financial resilience in ALAs
The paper was the foundation for talks between Injaz, the NCAM and key government ministries, in particular the Ministries of Interior and Social Equity.
Among the many topics addressed in the paper are “Reducing the Gap grants, “Leveling ” grants, the dire lack of municipal property tax revenues from local businesses, and the persistent lack of functioning industrial zones on ALAs.
The Fire-fighting and Rescue Committee
5.The Fire-fighting and Rescue Committee
The newly established committee prepared a policy paper that was submitted to Firefighting Authority, the following recommendations were adopted in full to GR550
1-Plan for constructing and equipping eight sub-stations and four volunteer stations in Arab communities
2- Allocation of 80 million shekels for the construction of eight sub-stations and four volunteer stations