The total jurisdiction area of the 79 local Arab authorities in Israel constitutes only 3.4 percent of Israel’s entire territory. 1,194,300 residents, approximately 14 percent of the country’s citizens, inhabit this limited area. The high population density and lack of land for development presents many challenges for local residents. For example, in some villages, limited jurisdiction zones prevent the building of new neighborhoods. As a result, local young adults who do not own land, have difficulty in finding sufficient housing in their villages. In addition, this situation presents significant challenges for local authorities in terms of allocating land for public institutions or employment areas. Consequently, a complex situation arises in which the authorities’ revenues fail to increase and their ability to provide basic services, such as hazard repairs, sanitation, and public building maintenance deteriorates even further.
Over the past three years, the Ministry of the Interior appointed seven geographical committees authorized to perform two major activities: change the jurisdiction boundaries between neighboring local authorities, and redistribute revenues from profitable domains (such as industrial zones, commerce, public services, army bases, quarries, etc.) among local authorities.
At Sikkuy, we view this mechanism as a significant opportunity to strengthen economic, municipal, and urban development in Arab villages and townships. We believe that the optimal implementation of this mechanism can mark a cornerstone solution for two acute problems from which Arab villages suffer as a result of years-long discrimination: shortage of available land for the development of employment, commerce, and housing, and a shortage in independent sources of income.
In the framework of this project, we are cooperating with Arab local authorities and various government offices and planning authorities to improve the mechanism and facilitate the local authorities’ capacity to operate within it. As part of our efforts, we promote the charting of areas with a potential for the distribution of revenues and expansion of jurisdiction boundaries, conduct advocacy meetings with various government ministries, and provide local Arab authorities with tools necessary to achieve effective outcomes in implementing the mechanism and collaborating with relevant organizations.