On a visit to the State of Palestine, Dr. Clos holds talks with the Prime Minister and Local Government Minister
Ramallah, 8 September 2015– – UN Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos undertook a one day mission to Palestine starting 6th of September where he held high level meetings with the Prime Minister Mr. Rami Hamdallah and Mr.Hussein Al-A’raj, Minister of Local Government. The Executive Director thanked the Prime Minister for his continued efforts and leadership in the areas of urbanization and spatial planning, while on the other hand, the Prime Minister expressed his appreciation for the fruitful collaboration between Palestinian Ministries and UN-Habitat saying “We appreciate our collaboration with UN-Habitat, and we are very proud that we work together under signed MoUs with Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Public Works and Housing, and Ministry of Planning and Administrative Development.” The Prime Minster and Executive Director discussed the participation of the State of Palestine in the upcoming HABITAT III Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development that will take place in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016, and the need to use the soon-to-be-approved post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals as a means to advocate for the needs of all Palestinians. The Executive Director reiterated UN-Habitat’s call for the cessation of illegal settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territory, the demolition of property, and for the end to the discriminatory planning process in place in Area C. Stressing that spatial and urban planning must be used as a means for delivering human rights, not denying them referring to the UN position paper on spatial planning in Area C of the occupied Palestinian territories, Dr. Clos said, “the UN family in Palestine has endorsed a one common approach to spatial planning in Area C that addresses international law concerns related to the Israeli planning regime in Area C, and support Palestinian planning for a future independent Palestine, including Area C.” The Executive Director also stressed on UN Habitat’s unwavering commitment to the State of Palestine realizing the potential of sustainable urbanization. At the meeting with Mr.Al-A’raj, Minister of Local Government, Dr. Clos and the minister signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UN-Habitat and the Ministry of Local Government outlining areas of collaboration and support focusing on utilization of spatial planning interventions, and supporting the establishment of appropriate spatial planning mechanisms to ensure integration of East Jerusalem, West Bank (with a specific focus on Area C) and Gaza Strip. The Executive Director and the Minister discussed the need to deepen and expand the already fruitful collaboration between UN-Habitat and the Ministry of Local Government. In this context, the Minister showed the ministry’s interest to extend and expand their collaboration with UN-Habitat saying, “MoLG is willing to extend its cooperation with UN-Habitat to cover the issues of East Jerusalem and the Bedouin communities, where planning interventions need to be designed carefully to reciprocate with the geo-political context and to meet the current urgent needs without undermining the rights of Palestinians.” The Executive Director also shared with the Minister the recently approved The One UN Approach to Spatial Planning in Area C of the occupied Palestinian territory, noting that for the first time the UN has a common position in regards to the restrictive and discriminatory planning practice in place in Area C. The Executive Director reiterated the need for the development of an inclusive planning and zoning regime that will enable Palestinians’ residential and community development needs to be met.