In Israel there are no counties, no sheriffs

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Simha Nyr, Adv. 26.02.2010 18:38
no such animal

no such animal

In Israel there is no “mezzanine” level of government between the state government and the municipalities, the “district” is not an entity, there is nothing similar to the American “county”, and there are no sheriffs, as well.

The major differences between the U.S. and Israel, as to levels of civil government


The civil government in the United States has four levels: the country, the state, the county and the locality. There may be some nuances, like consolidated (or unified) city–county, but they are exceptions to the principle.


By this principle, the State of Israel, which is not a federation, should have three government levels, but it has only two: the state (or central) level, and the municipal (or local) level.


The state level


Geographically Israel is divided into six districts, but this division is just for the convenience of the central government, nothing more. The ministries of education, health, transportation, and others have district branches, but those branches are but “organs” of the central government.


The ministry of the interior has, besides the district branches, also district “commissioners” – an inheritance of the British mandate on Palestine – but they are kind of supervisers of the ministry, not much more.


The ministry of justice has district attorneys, but in Tel-Aviv district there are three DAs: civil, criminal and taxation and economics.


The judiciary is also divided into districts, each of which has one district court, and several magistrate courts.


The Israeli police is divided unto districts, but they have one inspector-general, and if there is a need to mobilize policemen from one district to another, it is a question of indoor management.


The army, au contraire, has but three geographical “commands”, but the air force, navy and armory are regarded, in some ways, as “commands”. The word “district”, as regards the army, has a meaning only in the context of court-martials, which are divided into seven (if I’m not mistaken) “districts”, only three of them are geographically-based.


However, a “district” in Israel is not an entity per se: it has no government, no legislature, no budget, no taxation, no police.


The municipal level


The local level of government is based on municipalities – the bigger of them have a status of “cities” (or “towns” – in Hebrew they are the same), and the smaller have a status of “local councils”.


Localities which have municipal status, as above, are, in general, responsible for public services that are not given by the state, as water, sewage, garbage disposal, internal roads, landscaping, culture and education (in addition to those given by the state), etc. They may enact by-laws regarding local matters (business licensing, building licensing, parking etc., and they are authorized to impose taxes, but for very limited local purposes, as mentioned above.


The municipalities have no “police” in the common meaning, but they have “supervisers” for the inforcement of local by-laws, nothing more.


The Israeli “regional council” vs. the American “county”


Unincorporated communities have no municipal status, and no local “government”. They have local “committees”, which have no statutory powers, and their very existence is based on the laws regarding societies (and other forms of legal entities), and the contractual relationships between the entities and their members.


It doesn’t mean that the unincorporated communities are “orphans” who have no municipal status. They are organized in frameworks of “regional councils”, on a geographical basis.


Yet, the regional councils, though, to some extent are very similar to the American “counties”, are not a “mezzanine” level of government. They are no more than “regular” local councils, for communities who “can’t afford” (or don’t want to have) municipal status.


Like the American “county”, an Israeli “regional council” can surround municipal “enclaves” over which they have no jurisdiction, but unlike the American counties, the Israeli regional council has no police, except, like the incorporated municipalities, the mechanism of supervisers, for “municipal” enforcement.


So, in Israel there is nothing similar to the American “county”.


And no sheriffs, as well.




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