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Municipal Flags (Israel)

Last modified: 2004-01-24 by santiago dotor
Keywords: israel | municipality | subnational | local council | regional council | law | qiryat | qrayot |
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Introduction

Israeli municipalities have only a statutory coat-of-arms, and their flags usually are the coat-of-arms on a background which is chosen by the mayor, city council or a city official, and can be changed at their will. Some cities use the Israeli flag as background, changing the Magen David with the coat-of-arms (for example the flag of Jerusalem). The absence of any legal status of city flags, and the mayors' wishes to make their cities more colourful during holidays, is bringing the result that in some cities you can see the local coat-of-arms printed on different backgrounds.

Dov Gutterman, 7 September 1998

Israel is administratively divided into 6 districts. However, those districts don't have any form of government and have no flags or emblems. So the subdivisions of Israel are municipalities and there are more than 200 of them.

Municipality flags are basically logo-on-bedsheets (LOBs) and some cities use more than one background colour. As I already said, those flags are not official, however some municipalities have used the same background for ages so those could be considered as semi-official.

Dov Gutterman, 15 April and 15 May 1999

There are three types of Israeli subnational divisions. The combined name for all three types of subdivisions is Local Authorities and they number 258 in all. The three types are:

  • Iriyat or Municipality: big urban settlement (sometimes mistakenly translated as city);
  • Mo'atza Mekomit or Local Council: small urban settlement; and
  • Mo'atza Ezorit or Regional Council: rural area with small settlements, mainly agricultural.
There are no specifications of these flags, and flags can differ from one batch to other. Therefore, it is more than probable to find different sizes of emblems, inscriptions or colors. (...) My guess is that the municipality orders flags without specification apart of colour and the rest relies on the manufacturer...

Dov Gutterman, 16 and 21 August 2001


Municipalities / Iriyot


Local Councils / Mo'atzot Mekomiyot

During my visit on 1 September 2001, the following municipalities appeared to have no local flags:

  • Local Council Basmat Tiv'on: national flag on the city hall.
  • Local Council Yokn'am Ilit: no flags at all
  • Local Council Isfiya: no flags at all

Dov Gutterman, 1 September 2001


Regional Councils / Mo'atzot Ezoriyot

Ralph Phillips sent me two pages of a book called Regional Councils in Israel, which contain photos of desk flags of all —or at least almost all— of Israel Regional Councils. There are no official flags for any of these regional councils and the desk flags are usually logo-on-bedsheets containing the emblem of the regional council, usually on a white background. For example, this scan shows the flag of the Regional Council of Shaar ha'Negev (Negev's Gate) which situated in the northern part of the Negev desert.

Dov Gutterman, 3 April 2000


Municipal Flags Legislation

I have carried out a research about the origin and the legislation of Israel municipal flags, covering all legislation and proclamations concerned. There is one final conclusion to this research — there is not even one official municipal flag in Israel!

Until 1958 there was no legal status to the emblems of local authorities in Israel. There was some protection against their misuse according to general legislation (copyright rules, criminal and civil laws preventing misleading etc.) but those emblems were not protected per se against misuse. In 1958, the Knesset [parliament] enacted The Local Authorities (Emblems) Act, 5718-1958 (adopted 5 August 1958), which included the following provisions (as translated by me):

2 (a) - Local authority is permitted, by majority vote of its members, to determine an emblem for itself.
(b) Local authority which decided to determine an emblem for itself, shall get the approval of the Minister of interior, and the approved emblem shall be published in the Rashumot [official gazette], and in doing so the emblem shall become the emblem of this local authority.
Altogether 173 proclamations were done according to this act until 1974. Ten of them were corrections or replacements to previously published emblems (usually right after the authority was upgraded from Local Council to Municipality). Some of them are of long forgotten and now dissolved local authorities.

This Act was replaced by the Symbols Protection Act of 1974 which had two major elements added. It now applied not only to local authorities but also to the symbols of government and governmental organizations, and it also applied to flags. Guess how many flags were protected by this law since 1974 until nowadays — not even one! From the enactment and until this very day there were 66 proclamations. 62 by municipalities, 3 by the government, 1 by a governmental organization — all of them about emblems, none about flags.

The municipal emblems which appear on the (unofficial) flags are published in the official gazette (Rashumot), in a part called Yalkut Ha'Pirsumim (usually abbreviated as YP) where such proclamations are published.

Dov Gutterman, 4 September 2001


Municipalities in West Bank Occupied Territories

Israeli municipalities in West Bank and Gaza Strip areas occupied since 1967 cannot register their emblems. The reason is that those areas are not legally part of Israel and according to international law they are governed by decrees of the military commander of the areas. Many Israeli laws are in force in those municipalities when adopted there by the military commander, but the Symbols/Emblems Protection Act of 1974 is not one of them. Local authorities with such emblems are:

Dov Gutterman, 19 January 2003


Municipalities in Golan Heights Occupied Territories

There are several Israeli local authorities in the Golan Heights, an area of Syria occupied by Israel since 1967 and unilaterally annexed in 1981. Under Israeli law and de facto, the Golan Heights are part of Israel. International law and the United Nations still recognize the Golan Heights as part of Syria. Local authorities with such emblems are:


Vocabulary used in Local Authorities' names

Here are some words that are used in many Israeli local authorities and other settlements. All are Hebrew except where indicated:

  • Abu (Arabic) = father of
  • Be'er (Arabic Bir) = well
  • Bet = house of
  • Bne(i) = sons of
  • Biq'at = valley of (see also Emeq)
  • Dir / Dier (Arabic) = monastery
  • Ein = spring
  • Emeq = valley
  • Even = stone
  • Gan = garden, Gane(i) = garden of
  • Giv'at = hill of
  • Gush = block
  • Har = mountain
  • Hevel = area, region
  • Hof = sea shore
  • Kokhav (Arabic Kaukab) = star
  • Illit = upper
  • Kfar (Arabic Kafr) = village
  • Ma'ale = uphill, ascent
  • Matte = stick (refer to partition of Israel by the tribes and therefore = area and/or people of a tribe)
  • Migdal = tower
  • Mizpe = observation point
  • Nahal = small river, brook
  • Neve = dwelling,habitation
  • Or = light
  • Qirya(t) = town (of)
  • Ramat = height, Ramot = heights
  • Rosh = head, top
  • Sha'ar = gate
  • Tel = mound, hill
  • Umm (Arabic) = mother of

Dov Gutterman, 19 October 2001


Local Authorities starting with Qiryat

There are five Qrayot (plural of Qirya) in Haifa Bay area: Qiryat Yam, Qiryat Haim (my hometown, considered part of Haifa), Qiryat Bialik (where my office is), Qiryat Motzkin (my previous hometown) and Qiryat Ata.

Dov Gutterman, 13 August 2001

The word Qirya (pl. Qrayot) comes from the Bible and means town or city. The first to use it in this area was Qiryat Haim in 1933. Even though it is used in other local authorities —Qiryat Shmona in Upper Galilee, Qiryat Gat in the south, Qiryat Ono in the centre and others— when someone speaks about the Qrayot —short for Qrayot ha'Mifratz or the Bay's Qrayot— he refers to the five which are situated in Zvulun Valley, Haifa Bay, north of Haifa. There are only four in this list since Qiryat Haim, administratively speaking, is part of Haifa.

Dov Gutterman, 26 September 2001

Fahnen / Flaggen