On Thursday, 21/04/2022, a handover ceremony took place for the Bethlehem Municipal Council from its council headed by Adv. Anton Salman, which lasted for nearly five years from May 2017 until February 2022, to the elected municipal council headed by Mr. Hanna Hanania, through the Steering Committee of the Bethlehem Municipality, headed by Mrs. Shireen Mauge, in a solemn ceremony held at the municipality, in the presence of a member of the Executive Committee of the Liberation Organization and Chairman of the Palestinian National Fund, His Excellency Dr. Ramzi Khoury, Director of the Local Government in Bethlehem, Engineer Arwa Abu Al Haija, and the Mayor of Bethlehem, Mr. Hanna Hanania, the former Mayor of Bethlehem, Adv. Anton Salman, the former Mayor of Bethelhem, Ms. Vera Baboun, representatives of Christian churches and various community organizations, and former as well as the new members of the Bethlehem Municipal Council, member of the Steering Committee and hundreds of city residents.
The ceremony began with the Palestinian national anthem and a minute of silence in respect of the souls of our innocent martyrs. Then, the Director of Local Government, Engineer Arwa Abu Al-Haijaa, delivered her speech in which she conveyed the greetings of the Minister of Local Government, Eng. Majdi Al-Saleh, and His Excellency the Head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, Major General Majid Faraj who was the sponsor for the reconciliation of the elected members. She also thanked the Chair and the members of the Steering Committee referring to their efforts to provide quality services for the benefit of the city, and also congratulated the elected president and members of the council and thanked the former president and members of the council, stressing the need for joint work to keep the services provided by the Bethlehem municipality in constant progress, and stressed that the local government directorate is fully prepared to provide the cooperation required for the Bethlehem municipality.
Then a video was shown summarizing the achievements of the Municipal Council for the years (2017-2022), followed by a speech by the Head of the Steering Committee of the Municipality, Mrs. Shireen Mauge, in which she congratulated the president and members of the elected Municipal Council, and thanked the president and members of the former Municipal Council and members of the Steering Committee who worked under exceptional conditions, especially under the Corona pandemic. She also talked about the rich experience which greatly added to her, which she reduced to recommendations related to the municipality employees, and working with a vision and defining strategies for the work of the municipal council and focusing on the importance of completing the work started by her predecessors, as well as mentioning the citizen of Bethlehem who is the center of the municipality's attention, in addition to the importance of activating the councils and departments of the municipality, and working on developing the smart work system and strengthening the information infrastructure of the municipality, thus raising the level of its services in a qualitative manner and in line with the continuous information development, and stressed the most important axis, which is the importance and status of Bethlehem’s religious and Christian status, which is the origin and roots of Bethlehem and the spirit of its extended and rooted identity. She also extended her best wishes and success on her behalf and on behalf of the members of the Steering Committee to the elected Municipal Council.
Mauge then handed over a sash of the Palestinian flag as a symbol of upholding Bethlehem Municipality, to the elected mayor of Bethlehem, Mr. Hanna Hanania. In conclusion, she thanked everyone who supported and supported her during her tenure, and specifically mentioned her colleagues, members of the Steering Committee, municipality employees, representatives of the Ministry of Local Government, and the Governor of Bethlehem.
In turn, the elected mayor of Bethlehem, Hanania, welcomed the attendees and congratulated the Palestinian people on the glorious Easter holidays, which coincide this year with the holy month of Ramadan. He recalled the exiles of the Church of the Nativity in various countries of the world, wishing for their close meeting with their families. Hanania thanked the people of Bethlehem for their great confidence in electing him and the municipal council, and said, "We were able to complete the elections with full awareness and realization that the people's voice is louder than any voice, and the results of the ballot boxes reflected the will of the people of Bethlehem, so that eventually I would be the head of the Bethlehem municipality, and this position is a responsibility and is not a distinction and I promise you that I will serve the people of my city with all honesty and sincerity, and that we will all meet your expectations, working as one team in order to develop our city and raise its status.”
Hanania also extended special thanks to His Excellency President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), may God protect him, and to Major General Majed Faraj, Director of the General Intelligence Service and the leadership of the Fatah Movement - Bethlehem Region, who had a great impact on the reconciliation of the city of Bethlehem and bringing it to safety in order to preserve the unity of the city, in light of the circumstances that our people are going through, which came as a result of this consensus that Hanania be mayor of Bethlehem municipality and that Mr. Nader Rahil be deputy mayor, and that they work with members of the municipal council to serve and develop Bethlehem.
He also extended his thanks and appreciation to the president and members of the previous council, and to the Central Elections Committee with all their ranks, which made great efforts in these elections, and expressed his pride in completing the election process with integrity, transparency and democracy.
Hanania also pointed out that Bethlehem celebrates this year the 150th anniversary of the founding of its municipality, “The establishment of this house with its ancient and honorable history, and expressed that we stand today, after all these years, to confirm that Bethlehem deserves us to work for it, and for its people, in order to develop and to grow with it, in order to build it with our own hands, and how glorious it is to see the children of Bethlehem united for the sake of its advancement and elevation.We live these moments in the most beautiful pictures of the city, and in a wonderful historical moment, from the land of birth today the light of unity shines, and we will remain, as we have always been, one hand, for together we are always stronger, and Bethlehem will remain first.
At the end of the ceremony, the handover and receipt minutes were signed, and the attendees offered their congratulations and congratulations to the elected president and members of the council.