The local authorities’ strike following the property tax fund law is ending – the fight really isn’t: the local government center announced today (Thursday) that the strike it announced last Sunday, and which lasted for about four days, will end, but instead its people will turn to the legal level. The goal is to fight the property tax fund law, which was approved for a second and third reading in a new and more “softened” version last Monday.
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Let’s remind: the property tax fund orders the redistribution of the municipalities’ income from non-residential property taxes, so that the more money the authority brings in from this property tax, the more funds it will set aside for the property tax fund – which in turn will distribute the funds among all the authorities, according to the amount of building permits that will be given to residences. The heads of the authorities where there are large areas of business and commerce protested this intention, and last Sunday it was decided to go on strike, as a protest that the law is being promoted despite everything.
As mentioned, the law was approved for second and third reading in the Knesset, in a more softened version than that which appeared in the first draft of the Settlements Law. Despite this, and despite significantly reducing the amounts that the authorities are expected to set aside for the property tax fund, the local government center decided not to stop the protest, and to continue the fight against the law.
“An unequal law, based on false data”
“At the joint management meeting of the local government center and the regional government center that took place today, it was decided to continue the fight against the ‘property fund’ law, which is designed to steal the residents’ money,” the official announcement about the continuation of the fight reads. “The local government and the regional government have decided to move the steps of the struggle to harm the government and not the residents, and are preparing an appeal to legal courts which will be submitted at the end of the legislative process of the Settlements Law.
“The property tax fund law is a twisted law that changes the genesis of relations between central government and local government. It is an unequal law, based on false data presented by the Ministry of Finance and promoted in a predatory and illegal manner. The fund does not achieve the goals for which it is claimed it was established (addressing the housing crisis), And it is clear that it was promoted due to other foreign considerations.”
The local government center even updates on the establishment of an action team that will coordinate the actions that will be taken as part of the struggle against the government, and declare that they will do so “without harming the residents of the authorities”. As I recall, at the beginning of the protest, all municipal services were shut down, and in many municipalities, education services as well. Later, apparently due to criticism from the residents, it was decided to restore the education system to full activity.
Smotrich on the state’s response to the petition against the strike: “a weak, stuttering and meandering response”
In the background of this, today the Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, sent an angry letter to the legal advisor to the government, attorney Gali Bahar-Miara, following the state’s response to the petition submitted by the industrialists’ association to the High Court against the strike of the local government center.
“I read with astonishment the ‘state’ response to the petition,” he writes. “This is a wild and illegal strike that is an abuse of the power of the government, and it was expected that as those who are entrusted with representing the interests of the state and its citizens, you will not sit on the fence with some weak, stammering and meandering response, but will stand firm against the strike and demand its immediate termination.
“Your response, which was submitted on your own accord and in complete contrast to my position as the Minister of Finance responding to the petition, without my position being heard in the discussion you held, could cause great future damage to the state and the public, if a judicial decision is made that will set a precedent that states that such a wild strike is a legitimate means of struggle against the decisions of the government and the Knesset.”
The Minister of Finance claimed in the letter that “despite the request of the Office of the Director General of the Office of the Ministry’s Counsel, Asi Messing, that the state’s position be presented to us before it is submitted, the final position was not presented to us and we received it by surprise after it was submitted. An ordinary attorney who would have represented the interests in this way of his client, was undoubtedly elevated in his position and does not continue in it.”
Accordingly, Smotrich is now demanding that the ombudsman authorize him “without delay” to represent himself before the court, “through which my position will be presented, which completely denies the legality of the strike”. after submitting his position.