Amsterdam delegation to build bridge between Tel Aviv, Ramallah

An Amsterdam delegation, including Mayor Eberhard van der Laan and alderperson Kajsa Ollongren, is currently on a visit to Tel Aviv and Ramallah. The purpose of this visit is to investigate the possibilities and desirability of cooperation between Amsterdam and the two cities and to answer the question on how Amsterdam can relate to these different communities at a municipal level.

The visit falls within the theme of "Amsterdam as an Internationally Responsible Capital City", according to a press release by the municipality of Amsterdam. This trip is expressly an investigative trip, done at the request of the Amsterdam City Council. Many residents of Amsterdam feel a strong affinity with Israel, while many others strongly identify with Palestine.

During this visit Mayor Eberhard van der Laan will meet with the mayors of Tel Aviv and Ramallah and ask their opinions on entering into relations with Amsterdam. There will also be meetings with businesses and civil organizations to investigate possible cooperation. The mayors will also discuss matters such as mobility, wast disposal, water management and societal issues such as how to deal with national and international tensions manifesting in the cities.

In Tel Aviv, Van der Laan will visit local and private initiatives aimed at promoting building bridges between communities. He will also open a summit on the future of cities and visit members of the Jewish-Dutch community.

In Ramallah, which is predominantly Muslim, but also has a large Christian community, the mayor will look at how the community invests in the prevention of radicalization. According to the municipality, Ramallah aims to be a model of tolerance, openness and dialogue, which presents an interesting example for Amsterdam. The city also offers business opportunities for Amsterdam, and the Netherlands as a whole, with a relatively highly educated population, including many IT experts. Ramallah is keen to learn from Amsterdam in areas such as how to improve its own city marketing, and with regards to issues like spatial planning.

Ollongren, Amsterdam alderperson of Economic Affairs, is visiting Tel Aviv to see what can be learned from the city in the field of ICT and show what Amsterdam can offer in the area of innovation. This has to do with Amsterdam's aspiration to become a strong start-up capital, which includes binding Amsterdam start-ups with those in other cities like Tel Aviv. Ollongren will therefore attend a congress on innovation and start-ups, which will also be attended by Minister Henk Kamp of Economic Affairs and StartupDelta Special Envoy Neelie Kroes.

After the visit, which takes place between September 5th and 9th, the mayor and alderperson will present their findings to the Amsterdam City Council.The Council will then decide whether and how to proceed.