Helen Clark on first ever visit to Israel

February 18, 2014 Agencies
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Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is due to arrive on her first visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  This is the first visit to the region of former New Zealand prime minister.

The UNDP is ranked the third most important UN organization.

Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Helen Clark                                                                        Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP)
UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

The visit represents an additional step in the strengthening of the relationship between Israel and the United Nations, and positions Israel as an important United Nations partner in the eradication of poverty, economic development and job creation.

The visit represents an additional step in the strengthening of the relationship between Israel and the United Nations, and positions Israel as an important United Nations partner vis a vis the UN agenda aimed at the eradication of poverty, economic development and job creation.

Established in 1966, the United Nations Development Programme coordinates and manages the majority of the technical assistance granted to developping countries through the UN system, and is active in approximately 170 countries. The programme’s purpose is to support countries in their efforts to achieve sustainable human development in various spheres – reduction of poverty and hunger and achievement of UN Millennium Goals, support of democracy, disaster prevention and rehabilitation, environmental protection, the fight against desertification and more.

The relationship between the organization and Israel has strengthened in recent years, a fact expressed by Israel’s membership of the organization’s executive committee for the first time in 2012, as well as by its involvement in the shaping of the programme’s policy and leading internal decisions and processes.

An important aspect of the relationship is the cooperation agreement between MASHAV (Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation) and UNDP signed in 2008, which includes, among other things, the promotion of joint activities in Africa and joint activities concerning gender and women’s empowerment in developing countries. The organization was also a sponsor of the International Women’s Leadership Conference organized by MASHAV in 2013. A group of African women is currently in Israel attending a course on agriculture as a business tool for empowering women.

During her visit to Israel, which will be held on 18-19 February, Helen Clark will meet with President Shimon Peres and will visit Yad Vashem, where she will sign the guest book. In addition, she will hold meetings with the coordinator of activities in the territories and senior MFA officials, including the Deputy Director General for the UN and International Organizations and the head of Mashav, Knesset representatives, members of academia, government ministries and the private sector.

In addition, she will meet with MASHAV students from Africa who are undergoing training in Israel in a course jointly run by Israel and the organization, and will participate in ID² – Israeli Designed International Development, the young entrepreneurs’ conference held in Caesarea, organized by the Schusterman Foundation and sponsored by MASHAV and Tel Aviv University.

In 2004, when Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark suspended diplomatic relations with Israel following the conviction of two Israelis found guilty of  trying to fraudulently acquire a New Zealand passport using the identity of a man with cerebral palsy.  she declared that declared that the New Zealand government viewed the acts carried out by the two Israelis as “not only utterly unacceptable but also a breach of New Zealand sovereignty and international law.”

She cancelled a planned visit to New Zealand by the Israeli President at that time Moshe Katzav. Israel apologised in 2005. The two Israelis were jailed for six months and ordered to pay a $32,500 fine to a cerebral palsy charity.

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