Nablus Municipality is a public institution with specific by-laws and systems enacted in order to render the best quality of municipal services to its local citizens. Nablus has had an important and national role due to its historical civilization from one hand, and its exquisite accomplishments on the other hand, credit is given to the loyalty and dedication of its staff.
The Municipality was founded in 1869 when the first municipal council was formed appointed Sheikh Mohammad Toffaha Huseini as the first mayor of Nablus. A wide range of responsibilities was bestowed to Mr. Huseini included supervision of all medical, educational, infrastructure, and labor affairs. In addition to the major issues related to electricity, water, licensing, building and construction affairs.
Prior to the British mandate in 1917, Sheikh Omar Zu’aiter was appointed by the Ottoman governor to be responsible for the city affairs. He was also authorized by the British representative to form a local government, which continued for one month followed by the British High commissioner.
The first municipal elections took place in 1925 and Mr. Suleiman Abdul Raziq Touqan was appointed to be the first Mayor of Nablus.
During the Jordanian rule in 1951, the interest in elections was increased among local citizens. The elections’ campaign was so competitive at that time and a number of young intellectuals won the elections. Mr. Na’im Abdul Hadi was elected to be the Mayor. Four years later, Mr. Abdul Hadi was appointed as Minister of Public Works and Haj Ma’zouz Masri took over the responsibility. In 1957, the mayor and the municipal council were dissolved. Bahjat Tabbara followed by a number of police leaders, head of departments governed the municipality till September 1963 prior to the Israeli occupation.
In 1963, another elections took place with a participation of 65% of total voters. Mr. Hamdi Kan’an who won the majority of votes, was elected by the council members to be the first elected mayor of Nablus. Mr. Kan’an resumed his duties and responsibilities commenced by executing a number of projects and improving different utilities and public services of Nablus city. He paid special attention to the expansion of electricity network to link Huwwara with Anabta. Furthermore, linking the water of Deir Sharaf’s Well to the city local reservoirs.
In the aftermath of Israeli occupation, the first electoral campaign for municipal council and the mayor took place on 28 March 1971 with participation of 72% of total voters. Mr. Ma’zoz Masri won the elections and was elected as the mayor of Nablus. During this period, a number of public schools were established, in addition to remodeling of old schools and some historical buildings. This period was characterized by the analytical and feasibility studies, which were conducted for projects that meet the needs and priorities of the local inhabitants. Among these projects are the sewer and drainage nets, electricity and water nets’ installations, establishing public buildings such as the central vegetable market, expansion of public library, and developing parks. At that period, a giant electricity project was established to provide electricity to Nablus city and the surrounding villages.
The second electoral campaign took place in 1976 with a participation of 54% of total voters. Thirty-three candidates ran the elections and Mr. Bassam Shaka’a was elected to be the second elected mayor of Nablus while Mr. Zafer Masri was elected as deputy mayor. The municipality went through a very critical phase in terms of its financial capacities. Due to the high cost of living, inflation and the deficit incurred on the budget as a result of Israeli occupation, the mayor and the entire council member envisaged new mechanism of launching funding campaigns. A delegation comprised of the mayor and two of the council members paid an official visit to a number of neighboring countries in an attempt to attract the requested financial support and donations to balance the said deficit.
In 1982, the city council was dissolved by the Israeli authorities under the mandate of Bassam Shaka’a due to his political opposition stances against Israeli authorities’ practices. Meanwhile, the Israeli authorities governed the municipality, managing its affairs in a chaotic manner which had negative impact on all aspects of domestic affairs and people’s daily life. In 1985, the Israeli authorities responded to Nablus Chamber of Commerce request in appointing Mr. Zafer Masri to be the mayor who was assassinated in 1986. His deputy Mr. Hafez Touqan took over the responsibility till the outbreak of the Palestinian Uprising “Intifada”.
Palestinian National Authority (PNA)
The inextricable situation predominated till 14/7/1994 when Mr. Ghassan Shaka’a was assigned as Nablus mayor prior to the inception of the PNA. The municipality under his administration witnessed a tangible reform whether at the administrative or technical levels. His leadership style was inspired by his vision towards confronting the political, economic and social challenges. His inspiration manifested itself in different spheres and issues of concern to the city as a whole. In his perspective, developing new infrastructure was not the only factor for sustainable development and economic growth. The mayor paid serious attention to poor and vulnerable groups, listening to their personal affairs, sharing their agonies, and finding rational solutions to their problems. Mr. Shaka’a was able to create a net of international relations, linking the city of Nablus with a large number of international cities. On 1/4/2004, Mr. Shakaa and the council under his mandate resigned due to the state of political turbulance and instability in the city.
Nominated Committee for the Interim Period
Minister of Local Government Dr. Khaled Qawasmeh has formulated an ad hoc committee to take over and manage municipality affairs led by Dr. Hussein Araj, Deputy Minister of Local Government. The mandate of this committee has extended for 19 months, considered an interim period till the date of local government elections took place on 15 December 2005.
Thirty Years from the Last elections
The first municipal elections took place, after the last one in 1976, on 15 December 2005. The List of Change and Reform led by Mr. Adly Yaish won the elections with a total majority of 73%. Thirteen members from the Change and Reform List with two members from Fateh list are currently running the municipal affairs in a homogeneous spirit since the date of elections. The current mayor and council members give high priority for improving services for the best interest of local citiznes and development of the city, while working on reforming and institutionalizing this important entity at a time. Internally, a new organizational structure associated with new cadre and salary scale system for all employees have been developed in coordination with one of the pioneer consulting firms in the city. In order to expedite citiznes transactions, a Customer Service Center that can save time and efforts of the citizens based on one-stop shop concept has also been developed and established and is currently running since February 2008. One of its pioneer projects that has been imanated from the municipality during this mandate is the creation of the North Electricity Company for improving the performance of this important utility and achieve independency on the long run. Education, water and industrial sector were also approached by establishing about 12 schools, rehabilitation of the industrial zone, improving the water networks and sewerage system, in addition to road constructions, retaining walls and public stairs sprawled in different areas of the city.
Undoubtedly, the Israeli occupation stands as a major stumbling block that hampers socio-economic and political development in the area, however, the vision of Nablus municipality was motivated further to initiate a wide spectrum of projects and activities. Despite this dramatic situation of complex emergencies within which the mayor and the council members were functioning, they were constantly determined to better sustain the basic needs and services of the local citizens, improve their living standards, and secure a healthy environment.
Nablus Municipality is currently considered one of the largest organizations in Palestine in terms of volume of services it provides, the projects it carries out, and the number of local staff it employs. Nablus Municipality is one of the major employers in Palestine and it is the main driving force behind development process of the Nablus city. Among its major accomplishments are the establishment of cultural centers, public parks, the preservation of Nablus cultural and historic heritage project namely; remodeling of old city, and the commercial center which is considered one of the economic and architectural land marks of Nablus city. During this period, the city was suffering the lack of water resources crisis especially in the summer time. The municipal council was determined to take the challenge through digging water wells to meet not only the need of Nablus citizens, but it also provides water to the neighboring towns and villages.