An Assessment of the Reality of Decentralization in Local Government in the Palestinian Context

author: Wafa Al-Bitawi, Aref Jaffal
year: 2023


In recent years, the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) has shed light on the local government sector because of its belief in the significant role that this sector can play in local development. This has been done through the implementation of a series of significant studies, such as the Local Economic Resource Diagnostic Studies as well as The Study of the Regional Organization of Palestine for Development and Administrative Reform. This new study addresses a very important topic: assessing the reality of decentralization of local government in the Palestinian context and the significant impact of decentralization on providing the flexibility needed by local bodies to ensure the continued provision of services and improve their quality for citizens.

This study aims to analyze the reality of decentralization in the Palestinian local government sector and determine the compatibility of the tasks and obligations legally imposed on local authorities with the size of the powers and capacities granted to them according to the legal framework regulating its work. The study focuses on three main axes, political decentralization, administrative decentralization, and financial decentralization.

This study showed that the process of achieving decentralization in local governance in Palestine still faces great challenges which hinder its progress in the political, administrative and financial aspects. Therefore, it developed a set of recommendations aimed at strengthening decentralization in governance by amending the current legal framework, and finding solutions aimed at overcoming the administrative and financial problems that local authorities suffer from, and which impedes their independence. The most notable recommendations are the strong political will for change on the part of the central government and the adoption of legally supported administrative procedures at the central and local levels, the clarification by the central government of the basis for the distribution of revenues it collects for local bodies in the transfer process, and the need to give greater attention to the involvement of village councils among the bodies entitled to benefit from The Municipal Development and Lending Fund (MDLF) projects.

MAS extends its gratitude to the research team for their efforts in preparing this study. We also highly appreciate the response of the relevant authorities, The Association of Palestinian Local Authorities (APLA), The Municipal Development and Lending Fund (MDLF), the Ministry of Local Government, and the interviewed local authorities, for the time that they devoted to meet the research team and answer their questions.

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