Bethlehem Municipalities Establish Joint Council for Planning and Development
Global Communities is proud to have shepherded the establishment of the “Joint Service Council for Planning and Development” for Bethlehem municipalities. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun, Beit Sahur Mayor Hani Hayek, Beit Jala mayor Nicola Khamees, and Ad Doha Mayor Khaled Mahboub, on behalf of their respective municipal councils, in a formal ceremony held on March 22, 2016 at Bethlehem Municipality. This joint council is the first of its kind in Palestine, and provides a platform for the four neighboring municipalities to work together in planning and development, thus maximizing resources and enhancing outcomes. The Council aims to: prepare master plans for the joint urban expansion; work towards unification of systems, procedures, fees, and tariffs; coordinate on a wide range of services; work to strengthen community outreach and citizenry; and develop new policies and procedures to develop tourism and attract local and foreign investments. The idea of the joint council began after the mayors participated in a 2014 Global Communities study tour about “Grand Municipalities” under the USAID-funded LGI program. Bethlehem Governor Jerbin Al Bakri, Minister of Local Government Hussien Al Araj, Deputy Minister of Local Government Mohammad Jabarin, and Global Communities West Bank and Gaza Country Director Lana Abu Hijleh also participated in the ceremony.