Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas yesterday confirmed a push to seek full membership at the UN as a sovereign state. But despite support for recent Palestinian Authority reforms, the UN move could backfire.
Hebron, West Bank
Between tightly packed meetings with foreign diplomats, local clan leaders, and manufacturers, Hebron Mayor Khaled Osaily offers visitors a glossy booklet detailing the achievements of the West Bank's largest city.
A former tycoon, he has brought a business mentality to Hebron's bureaucracy, introducing new programs that have streamlined operations.
"This is the foundation of the state," he beams.
On the first floor of the municipality building, a row of tellers sit behind flat-panel displays – Hebron's "one-stop shop" for citizen services, as he calls it, which has reduced processing time by about two-thirds. One floor up, the municipality's chief for water resources boasts that a new computerized monitoring system cuts down on wasted water.
Beyond the confines of the municipal building, work is being completed on a new community center and school, a project financed by South Korea.
"We are better than many other countries already," says Mayor Osaily.
Indeed, the whir of activity in Hebron is part of a broader Palestinian Authority (PA) initiative to demonstrate that the building blocks of independence are in place ahead of a key United Nations vote on Palestinian membership.
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