A central conference titled “Local Economic Development: Reality, Ambition, and Determinants” was organized by Ta'awon for Conflict Resolution, in partnership with the Government and Local Governance Program in Birzeit University on 18 December 2019. Deputy Minister of Local Government Dr. Ahmad Ghunaim attended the conference, within which a number of important conference papers were presented on the subject of local economic development. The conference papers included: Localizing the Concept and Institutionalizing the Act, Legal Framework and Policy Determinants, and Local Economic Development Experiences. More than 100 participants attended the conference from across the West Bank’s Northern, Southern, and Middle regions, ranging from government and non‐
government institutions, local community, youth clubs, and partner community‐based organizations. By the adjournment of the conference, a set of key actionable recommendations was formulated. During the conference, Deputy Minister Dr. Ahmad Ghunaim affirmed that the work of local councils and municipalities is not limited to public service; they actually have an enormous responsibility in contributing to national economic development, which the government has adopted in its current Strategic Plan. Dr. Ghuneim also highlighted that the Ministry’s action plan is based on the local authorities’ recommendations towards serving the national and governmental policies.
"The role local councils play is developing; According to the law, their responsibility is
not solely limited to public service; it actually contributes to promoting economic and
national development, shouldering its community development responsibility towards
enhancing its economic growth.”
On the other hand, Dr. Mohammad Hanini, lecturer at Birzeit University and Director of the Government and Local Governance Master's Program, elaborated on the role of local government highlighting that the Palestinian government will not be able to make any progress towards economic development
without the local government’s complete involvement in the process.
"There’s urgency for the cooperation between the Central Government and the Local Government. We currently have a total of 430 local authorities; if all of them acted collectively to promote the development process, in institutionalized –not individual– forms, the economic conditions will indeed change; unemployment will decrease and production will increase, therefore achieving a self‐reliant economy, without the dependency on the Israeli economy.”
In the same context, the Director of Ta’awon’s Alternative Means Unit Mr. Hani Ismirat stated that this conference sheds light on the philosophy of the economic and social development within the Palestinian society and the challenges Palestinian institutions face in issues related to economic development.
"The existence of indicators on good governance within local councils is crucial for contributing to conflict mitigation between civil society and local councils. Local councils possess significant resources that can be well‐invested to maximize profits in order to achieve economic development.”
Mr. Ismirat also elaborated on Ta’awon’s Good Governance project stating that the project was designed in response to the government strategy and the launching of Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh’s development philosophy with the agricultural clusters plan initiated in Qalqilya governorate.
The conference was organized as part of the Good Governance project, implemented by Ta’awon and funded by the International Center of OLOF PALMA. The project aimed at developing the capacities of civil society institutions, government institutions, and local councils in the values of good governance,
including transparency, integrity, democracy, elections, accountability, civil rights, judiciary, and justice as well as other forms of values and practices of good governance. The project promoted behavioral change of participating individuals and institutions in their understanding of the importance of good
governance and attempting to build partnerships for practicing good governance.