Brussels and Ramallah sign development cooperation agreement

The Brussels government signed a development cooperation agreement with Ramallah-Al Bireh, one of Palestine’s 16 governorates, on Tuesday. 

In it, the parties commit to strengthening the economic, social, scientific, environmental and sanitary conditions of the 400,000 inhabitants of Ramallah-Al Bireh, in the West Bank. 

The Brussels government will share technological and administrative expertise and maintain close ties with the region. It will also focus on urban development and sustainable mobility, the preservation and protection of heritage in the region, social rights and the fight against social exclusion.

An office of the business support agency will also open in Ramallah, to promote exchanges with Palestinian businesses.

"International solidarity is more important than ever"

The signing was attended by Palestine’s ambassador to Belgium, Abdalrahim Alfarra, while the governor of Ramallah-Al Bireh, Laila Ghannam, watched via videoconference. State secretary for International Relations Ans Persoons and minister president Rudi Vervoort represented Brussels.

The idea of a cooperation agreement originated in 2021 and the intention was to sign the deal locally last year. However, the war between Hamas and Israel meant the mission was postponed and replaced by a digital conference.

“International solidarity is more important than ever,” said Persoons. “A metropolis is always connected to the rest of the world” and it is important “to make efforts to promote economic development and social rights in the occupied territories”. 

She added that the Brussels government was not taking a stand against the Israeli state but rather “making a clear choice” by cooperating on the region’s development.

“The situation in Palestine is of great concern to all of us,” Vervoort said. "We are particularly appalled by the humanitarian crisis currently raging there … We will do everything possible to continue our work and support the Palestinian people.”


A vendor sells fruits at a street market in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, April 2024 © PHOTO ZAIN JAAFAR / AFP / The signing of the agreement in Brussels, 30 April 2024 © BELGA VIDEO TIMON RAMBOER

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