The Association of Palestinian Local Authorities (APLA) has become the first Arabic association to sign an affiliation agreement with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and join their membership. Opening the doors before Palestinian city managers to exchange experiences and learn from their peers around the world, and to join ICMA.
The agreement signage took place at the annual ICMA conference convened in Baltimore, United States. APLA's Executive Director Eng. Abdallah Anati signed with ICMA's Executive Director Marc Ott over a video conference.
The two associations agreed to grow a meaningful affiliation through specific actions and accountabilities by participating in each other's annual conferences, hosting representatives and speakers, providing conference planning committees, exchanging experience mutually, as well as, working cooperatively on consulting projects and access project funding.
Eng. Anati stated that the agreement allows APLA to access ICMA library, which is considered to be one of the biggest libraries worldwide with its rich content related to Local Governance and City Management. Clarifying that this will contribute to achieving APLA's goal in activating City Manager position in all the Palestinian Local Government Units, as well as building their capacities by participating in the International Management Exchange Program (IMEP), this consists of exchanging visits to expand their horizons by collaborating with their colleagues from around the world. Eng. Anati also added that the agreement coincides with a new phase APLA is witnessing which is establishing the Palestinian City Managers Network (PCMN) driven by APLA, and aims to present and unite them, collaborate with them to form policies, and enhance their capacities.
About PCMN, Eng. Anati elaborated saying "A network will be established as a unit within APLA through forming an Executive body that adopts APLA’s decisions from one hand, and works on improving the Municipalities financial sustainability and providing services from the other hand, believing that successful management will make the Local Government Units more efficient through building their staff capacities.”
On his part, ICMA Executive Director Mr. Marc Ott renewed his commitment to providing all available resources to serve APLA and to provide the needed technical help in establishing the PCMN according to APLA's plan to enhance City Managers capabilities.
APLA's President Eng. Mousa Hadid expressed his pride in signing this agreement as it is considered a national achievement having Palestine as the first Arab country to Join ICMA, ensuring that APLA is working on all levels related to LGUs, without limitation to the elected, it seeks to enhance LGUs mayors, councilors, and executive staff potential by joining the ICMA and exchanging expertise with its staff.
Al Bireh Municipality City Manager Ziyad Al Taweel has participated in the annual ICMA conference as APLA's representative and presented the reality of LGUs to more than 1,000 ICMA members in which he viewed the challenges and obstacles they are facing in their daily jobs.
The agreement signing and APLA's participation in ICMA annual conference came after months of coordination and preparation with the ICMA, as well as conducting many activities like hosting an ICMA delegation last July, consisting of ICMA president David Johnstone, Executive Director Marc Ott, ICMA Business Development Manager Harleen Kovela and City Manager, Hoorn, Netherlands (International Region) Frans G.Mencke. The purpose of the visit was to better understand the local government scene on the ground in Palestine and discuss the possible cooperation between the two institutions.
ICMA has published a report on their website regarding the visit, titled "Palestinian City Managers are Building a Better Tomorrow". The report highlighted ICMA visit to Palestine, adding the delegation meetings arranged by APLA during the visit in which they’ve met with His Excellency, Dr. Hussain Al-Araj, the Minister of Local Government, the Palestinian city managers, and other meetings with APLA to improve the collaboration between the two. The report praised the experiences of the Palestinian cities, APLA's role and efforts to promote the Local Government Sector in Palestine.