Date: 06 December 2007
Time: 11:30 GMT
PCHR Is Concerned over Measures Taken by Dismissed Government towards Gaza Municipality
PCHR is deeply concerned over the latest measures taken by the dismissed government in Gaza towards the Municipality of Gaza, and stresses that such measures, which contributes to further deterioration to the persistent inherited crisis of the municipality, like other municipalities that are managed by councils appointed by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).
The dismissed government in Gaza has recently taken a series of measures towards the Municipality of Gaza, including dismissing directors of a number of vital departments in the municipality, including the Director-General of the municipality, and appointing substitutes. On 29 November 2007, Minister of Local Government in the dismissed government in Gaza, Dr. Ziad al-Zhazha, appointed Emad Siam as the Director-General of the Municipality of Gaza, replacing Mohammed Akram Helles, who had assumed the responsibilities of this post since 2002. On 1 December 2007, Dr. al-Zhazha took another decision appointing Mohammed al-Masharawi as the Director of Supervision Department, replacing Tal’at al-Wehaidi. He also decided to promote Tayseer Zain al-Din appointing him as the Director of Personnel Department, replacing Mohammed Akram Helles.
In the same context, on Saturday evening, 1 December 2007, the Palestinian police confiscated the cars of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. In yet a further step, the Palestinian police foiled a meeting of the municipal council, which was called for by Dr. Majed Abu Ramadan, the Mayor, which was supposed to be held on Sunday morning, 2 December 2007, at Rashad al-Shawa Center that belongs to the municipality as they closed the center and dismissed its director, Sa’id Khairi Abu Ramadan.
These latest measures have followed previous measures taken by the dismissed government in Gaza towards other municipalities following Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip last June. In the context of those measures, Dr. Ziad al-Zahazha formed temporary committees affiliated to Hamas to manage three municipalities in the Gaza Strip after dismissing their previous administrations; on 16 July 2007, a committee was appointed to manage the Municipality of Rafah, and on 18 July 2007, two
temporary committees were formed to manage the municipalities of al-Boreij and Beit Lahia. The three affected municipalities had been managed by three councils that had been appointed by the PNA since 2005, pending re-holding elections for these municipalities in accordance with a decision taken by the Elections Court in May 2005 in response to a challenge submitted by Fatah movement against the results of the earlier elections, which were won by Hamas.
In light of the above:
1) PCHR stresses that these latest measures are part of the political conflict between Fatah and Hamas movements, which has impacted the executive, the judiciary and the legislature.
2) PCHR rejects the intervention of the dismissed government in Gaza into the affairs of the Municipality of Gaza, emphasizing that such intervention does not solve the municipality’s persistent problems, rather it devastates them.
3) PCHR fully realizes the problems endured by the Municipality of Gaza, the largest city in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially the problem of salaries, which caused strikes that disrupted basic services provided by the municipality.
4) PCHR believes that the absence of democratic practice and the appointment of committees by the PNA to manage municipalities constituted a prelude for mismanagement and the absence of transparency, which reinforced affiliation to governmental bodies rather than maintaining the independence of professionalism of municipalities.
5) The persistent crisis of municipalities can only be resolved through democracy and free and fair elections. In this context, PCHR recalls that a number of major municipalities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including the Municipality of Gaza, are managed by councils appointed by the PNA although elections were held for the majority of municipalities in the period December 2004 – December 2005.
6) Although PCHR believes that elections are the sole solution, it realizes the obstacles that obstruct holding such elections, including the lack of political will and compromise of the parties of the crisis.