Israel scraps proposed merger between Tel Aviv, southern suburb

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A proposed merger of Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Bat Yam, Jaffa’s neighbor to the south, has been canceled. Interior Minister Arye Dery informed the city’s mayors, Ron Huldai and Tzvika Brot, respectively, of the decision Tuesday.

In a letter to the mayors, Dery said the measure, announced in 2017, was no longer necessary because Bat Yam has met its budget deficit milestones and is expected to reach a balanced budget by the end of the 2022 budget year.

At the end of 2020, Bat Yam approved a plan to eliminate its deficit by 2023. The city says it has reduced its deficit to 19 million shekels ($5.858 million), from nearly 100 million shekels at the start of 2018.

Brot hailed the announcement, saying: “We have worked very hard to achieve this, and I intend to lead the city to many achievements in years to come.” He thanked the city manager, Yodfat Afek Arazi, and his partners in city hall for their cooperation and support.

Huldai, who supported the merger, reacted to the decision by saying: “I have said before and I repeat: Reducing the number of municipalities in Israel through mergers can greatly contribute to the quality of life and services delivered to residents. I previously accepted the Interior Ministry’s request to merge Bat Yam with Tel Aviv-Jaffa. This merger could have been a successful model for other municipalities. It’s a shame.”