Redrawing Israel's local government map: Political decisions, court rulings or popular determination

Eran Razin*, Anna Hazan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The delineation of municipal boundaries has broad implications on service provision, local development and local autonomy. Based on a survey of municipal boundary disputes and relevant rulings of the High Court of Justice, we examine how procedures of municipal boundary delineation have changed in Israel, with an emphasis on the increasing role of the court in these procedures. We argue that a growing role of the judiciary system reflects and influences processes of political decentralization and growing political pluralism. The role of the court in setting new precedents is particularly crucial when decentralization is not accompanied by legal reforms directed to transfer powers from the state to local stakeholders. The court practically limits central control by securing more transparent, professional and just procedures. The contribution of court intervention to local democracy may come at the expense of equality, but probably not at the expense of efficiency and effectiveness. However, the ability of the court to redefine the balance between local democracy and central control is constrained when not formally assigned by the law a role of a mediator or arbitrator. Precedents set up by the courts are more ambiguous than laws. Thus, they are prone to uncertainty and instability and cannot substitute for conscious reforms.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)513-533
Number of pages21
JournalPolitical Geography
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2001


  • Court activism
  • Israel
  • Local democracy
  • Local government
  • Municipal boundaries


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