Between excessive centralization and hesitant decentralization

Cite As:
Alterman Rachelle, Gavrieli Einat. Between excessive centralization and hesitant decentralization Haifa Israel: Samuel Neaman Institute, 2008.
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Amendment #43 to the Israel Planning and Building Law of 1995 was the most important step so far to devolve planning powers to the local planning commissions. The powers devolved, however, were minimal - the authority to approve a set category of amendments to local plans which contain only minor change to the existing plans. Even after this amendment, Israel's is among the most centralized planning systems. The most important of these is the power to approve plans. Even though the Amendment allows for only a modest degree of decentralization, it constitutes a turning point and a precedent and is already having far reaching implications for planning regulations and the quality of planning. In 2007 another small step was taken toward further decentralization of powers to the local level, but its implementation is gradual and will take many years. The lessons of the 1995 amendment are therefore crucial in anticipating the current move towards more decentralization.

The aim of this research is to look back and evaluate the manner and degree of implementation of Amendment #43. We examined the processes of decentralization in other countries. In Israel, we reviewed the legal and public policy background for enactment of Amendment #43 and evaluate its influence through an opinion survey.

The conclusions indicate that the decentralization process which began with Amendment #43 is only the beginning and there is no turning back. However to continue the process, the local authorities must be given the appropriate tools. The process of devolving powers to the local authorities must be accompanied by an increase in the number of planning positions on the local level, and appropriate budgets. Only then will decentralization be viable action rather than a hesitant set of insufficient steps.

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