Possibilities for cooperation
Many residents of Amsterdam feel a strong affinity with Israel, while others identify with the Palestinians. The question is how Amsterdam should relate to these different communities at a municipal level. At the same time, there are also possibilities for cooperation between the cities on, for instance, an economic level. This is expressly an investigative trip, conducted at the request of Amsterdam City Council, which has called on the Mayor to report on this issue. Mr Van der Laan and Ms Ollongren will be accompanied by a small official delegation. The visit falls within the theme of ‘Amsterdam as an Internationally Responsible Capital City’.
Tel Aviv – Alderperson Ollongren
Alderperson of Economic Affairs Kajsa Ollongren will visit Tel Aviv. The city has developed over recent years and has become a significant international player in the field of ICT. Amsterdam aspires to be a strong start-up capital. The city would like to explore what it can learn from Tel Aviv in this field, and show what Amsterdam can offer in the area of innovation. The Amsterdam start-up initiative is a collaborative effort between government and industry. Part of the programme is to bind Amsterdam start-ups with those in other cities such as London, New York, San Francisco, Boston and Tel Aviv. Alderperson Ollongren, accompanied by a delegation of Amsterdam businesses, will therefore attend a congress on innovation and start-ups. Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp and StartupDelta Special Envoy Neelie Kroes will also be attending. There are opportunities for Dutch trade and industry to do business in Tel Aviv.
Ramallah and Tel Aviv – Mayor Van der Laan
In Tel Aviv, the Mayor’s trip will include visits to local and private initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue and building bridges between communities. There will also be a visit to members of the Jewish Dutch community, and the Mayor will open a summit on the future of cities. Besides visiting Tel Aviv, Mr Van der Laan will also visit Ramallah. The population in Ramallah is predominantly Muslim, but there is also a large Christian community. There is heavy investment in the prevention of radicalisation. Ramallah aims to be a model of tolerance, openness and dialogue in the region. This presents an interesting example for Amsterdam. Ramallah has a relatively highly educated population, including many ICT experts. This also offers business opportunities for companies from Amsterdam and the Netherlands as a whole. Ramallah and the West Bank are relatively unexplored markets.
Amsterdam is a strong brand internationally. Ramallah is keen to learn from Amsterdam Marketing how it can improve its own city marketing. Ramallah faces a major challenge with regard to spatial planning and needs to draw on foreign expertise.
Amsterdam is interested in city-based solutions for problems that sometimes transcend city boundaries or national borders. This is true of matters such as mobility, waste disposal and water, as well as societal issues such as migration, innovation and sustainability, and the question of how to deal with national and international tensions as manifested in the city. During discussions of the results of previous exploration by the City Council’s General Affairs Committee, it emerged that various parties question the desirability of cooperation with the two cities, and the form that any such cooperation should take. The ensuing public outcry also demonstrated a need for further exploration. Because the Municipal Executive believes that – in addition to the reasons already described – in response to the tensions in Amsterdam it is wise to discuss the matter with the inhabitants of Tel Aviv and Ramallah themselves. This working visit to Tel Aviv and Ramallah is a means for further examination.
The next step
During the visit, the Mayor will meet 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 organisations, which will probe opinions on the desirability of cooperation with Amsterdam. Alderperson Ollongren will stay in Tel Aviv at the invitation of Ms Kroes, and in part will follow Minister Kamp’s itinerary.
In international policy, Amsterdam sees the substance of cooperation as paramount. The city does not set great store by the standardisation of international exchange. Whether or not it takes place is decided in dialogue with foreign partners, the City Council and the Municipal Executive. On its return to Amsterdam, the delegation will discuss the findings and experiences of this trip with the City Council.
Note for the press / not for publication
For more information please contact Tessel Schouten, spokesperson for Mayor Van der Laan, at +31 (0)6 2274 1857 or [email protected]