On the initiative of the Mossawa Center and in cooperation with the local council the EU Ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, spent Thursday, 19.07, visiting the Palestinian-Arab coastal town of Jisr il Zarqa to see first-hand the implementation of the capacity building project that the Mossawa Center has been leading with the local council.
Under the title of “Empowering a Community in Crisis,” the Mossawa Center, the Arab Center for Alternative Planning (ACAP) and the Legal Clinic of the Tel Aviv University have been engaged in a long-term capacity building project with the local council of Jisr. The project, which began in early 2018, is funded and supported by the European Union within the “Enhancing Local Authorities´ Contributions to Governance and Development Processes in Israel” cycle. The aim is to empower the Local Authority to maximize the economic potential of Jisr il Zarqa.
The visit included a welcome reception at the mayor’s office at which the different partner organisations had a chance to introduce the project implementation process to the Ambassador. The mayor of Jisr il Zarqa, Mr. Morad Amash, thanked the Ambassador for taking the time to visit the locality and explained that despite the socio-economic context within which the local council works,the residents are willing to fight for a better future. “We believe in ourselves and the capacity that we have.”
The Director of the Mossawa Center, Jafar Farah, presented a summary on the history of the Center's work in advocating for the rights of the village and its residents, including raising funds for the construction of four classrooms for the early childhood nurseries, expanding the public transport network in the village, monitoring the budget for the informal education program, and building a center to fight poverty as well as stressing the importance of continuing work on this aspect.
Marwa Zoubi, social and economic program coordinator of the Mossawa Center, explained how despite the project being in its early stages, first successes can already be reported; an example can be seen in the 40% graduation rate from high school in 2018 (compared to 26% and 15% in the years before). She continued to explain how investing in the local council workers as well as developing projects that reflect the needs of the residents is an important vehicle for change.
The meeting was followed by a guided tour of Jisr which outlined some of the challenges of the locality., One major issue is Jisr’s inability to expand as it is cut off by the physical borders of Caesarea, Kibbutz Maagan Michael, the sea, and Highway Two. This has been substantially impacting the economic growth of the village.
The tour ended with the Ambassador having the opportunity to meet the local council workers in which he stated, “[I see] some of those issues and challenges today visiting Jisr, but I also see the potential of this place. I am honoured to be visiting you here and glad we could support your capacity building projects to advance the socio-economic conditions here." Mr. Giaufret addressed the special role of the local council in their work, recognising that “[if you] reduce poverty, promote the economic and prevent environmental issues, you can change the reality. This is why we support this project through empowering the local council.”
The Mossawa Center looks forward to continuing to work closely with the European Union and our partners in the project to unlock the socio-economic potential in creating a positive change for the resident of Jisr il Zarqa.