Village of Great Neck Mayor Pedram Bral announced partnership agreements last month for the village to become sister cities with two territories in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Bral, who traveled to Israel last month, said the village was approached by officials from the Township of Eli and the Town of Mitzpe Yericho, both located in the West Bank, to sign friendship agreements.
The mayor said the reason the village signed the partnership agreements between the two Israeli municipalities was because he wants to “build bridges” with a variety of other communities throughout the world.
Other international municipalities, he said, have already reached out to establish these agreements and he told village residents during last month’s Board of Trustees meeting that more will be coming.
“To hear that people are actually approaching us, wanting to make friendship agreements and build bridges… I think it’s extremely heartwarming,” Bral said. “I was more than happy to meet with them and it’s really my honor and privilege to sit here and announce these sister cities.”
Bral said officials from both territories reached out to him a week before his planned trip to Israel and did not announce the agreements until he was back from his trip. The agreements mentioned both parties having a “desire to strengthen friendly and cooperative relations” between themselves.
The village’s agreements came months after Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signed a similar agreement between the county and two communities in what is termed by some Judea and Samaria in May.
Judea refers to all the regions south of Jerusalem. Samaria refers to the area north of Jerusalem.
The agreement between Nassau and the communities in the occupied territories, Blakeman said, will be one also based on economic and cultural aspects. Officials said the Palestinian Authority and the international community do not recognize Samaria, an area within the Jewish homeland.
The Shomron Regional Council provides services for the Jewish towns and Israeli settlements in the Samarian Hills with a population of more than 23,000 people.
Blakeman was joined by various community and religious leaders, including Yossi Dagan, chairman of the Shomron Regional Council, located in the northern West Bank. Dagan thanked Blakeman and the county for arranging the agreement and said he looks forward to the partnership between the parties.
The Town of Hempstead also signed a Declaration of Cooperation with the Region of Shomron delegation in September 2016, when Blakeman was a member of the town board. North Hempstead officials condemned Ben & Jerry’s 2021 decision to stop selling its ice cream in the West Bank, calling the move dangerous and anti-Israel.
North Hempstead Council members had unanimously passed legislation prohibiting the town from working with companies participating in the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement in 2017, calling it a damaging and discriminatory policy against the state of Israel being perpetrated by a mounting number of entities.