UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka who is on a 5 day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, on Tuesday met with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
The two officials’ talks touched on many issues including the pending disengagement of Israel from Gaza that is presently being debated in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament). As part of her mission, Mrs. Tibaijuka is also expected to travel to the West Bank and Gaza to meet with senior officials of the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday and Thursday.
The highlight of the Executive Director’s tour of duty will be the launch the Special Human Settlements Programme for the Palestinian People, which focuses on capacity building, policy reform and providing technical assistance to the Palestinian People. The Programme, which is coordinated in UN-HABITAT by Mr. Abdalla Abbas, is the result of a resolution unanimously adopted by the Palestinians and the Israelis and other member states at the 19th Session of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT in May 2003.
The resolution establishing the Programme also urged the international donor community to support UN-HABITAT in the immediate mobilisation of financial resources for a Technical Cooperation Trust Fund of US$5 million for an initial period of two years. By last year, contributions to the Trust Fund had been received from the governments of the United States ($500,000) and Sweden ($275,000).
According to The Report of the Executive Director on the Housing Situation in occupied Palestinian Territories, which was commissioned by the 18th Session of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT in 2001, there is an urgent need to resolve the long term deterioration in human settlements conditions in the occupied territories.