A conference celebrating the twin cities shared by Israel
and Germany is being held in Jerusalem's Inbal Hotel this Sunday and Monday.
Israel and Germany have more than 100 twin cities which have signed an alliance partnership, sharing cultural and economic ties, student exchanges, etc. The twin cities include Holon and Berlin, Tel Aviv and Cologne, Netanya and Dortmund, and many others.
The conference, "In Freundschaft verbundene Städte" (cities linked in friendship), held in Israel for the first time, will host some 150 guests from Germany, including government officials, decision makers and mayors from cities across the country.
The guests will meet with their Israeli counterparts to discuss issues on the national and municipal agendas of both countries.
Kiryat Bialik signs twin-city agreement with Berlin (photo courtesy of Kiryat Bialik Municipality)
The conference will open with a gala event in the presence of President Shimon Peres,
Chairman of the Union of Local Authorities in Israel Shlomo Buhbut, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the German ambassador to Israel, mayors from Germany and Israel and other dignitaries.
One of the guest speakers is young revolutionary politician Marina Weisband, a devout Jew, who led Germany's Pirate Party to a tremendous success in the recent local elections at the age of 25.
A special decoration on behalf of the German president will be awarded to Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav for his contribution to tightening the relations between Germany and local authorities in Israel.
Six round-tables discussions will take place during the conference on issues such as foreigners in the municipal domain, multiculturalism and social heterogeneity, culture in an era of economic crises, green cities, local leadership in crisis management, municipal innovation as a platform for quality of living, and empowering cities through young people.
The conference's concluding session will host Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, and will present a joint flagship project in the field of young leadership, which will be included in a resolution by the Israel and Germany governments in December.
"We are in a period of lack of dialogue and diplomatic action. The local authority enters this vacuum," says Shlomo Buhbut, chairman of the Union of Local Authorities in Israel.
"We break boundaries. The inter-country connection between Israel and Germany broke the boundaries of the introduction dialogue and moved to the stage focusing on performance and creation. We at the Union of Local Authorities will continue creating these connections for the sake of continued performance."
According to Ruth Wasserman Lande, international affairs director at the Union of Local Authorities, "As Europe deals with a growing economic crisis and Germany serves as a key and leading factor in global economy, we are committed to design the future and relations between the two countries.
"Our top priorities are the issues relevant to both countries, on the international level and on the local level. A joint project for both countries will be announced at the end of the conference, implementing the tight mutual relations between local authorities in Israel and Germany and backed by both governments."